Green, Not Red, Is the Color of Love for This Color-Blind Jumping Spider

Jumping spiders are known for their dazzling colors and beauty, like parrots and peacocks.

They are also famous for their mating rituals, the seductive dances that male jumping spiders perform to attract females.

Photo: YouTube/National Geographic

Their kind of vision is also a big mystery for many scientists, who have discovered that some of these jumping spiders can see the moon and even the Andromeda Galaxy.

Typically, jumping spiders can only see two colors: green and ultraviolet. But experts kept thinking that these spiders must have a way to admire their own species’ colorful bodies, which are often painted in radiant red, orange, yellow, blue, and other hues.

Then, in 2015, Nathan Morehouse and his team discovered that jumping spiders could see a broad spectrum of colors, and in high definition!

These spiders are like birds, butterflies, and reptiles, which use a filtering system to distinguish colors. What’s more, their special filtering system enables these jumping spiders to have trichromatic vision, like people.

However, just when experts thought they had found the answers to the mystery of the jumping spider vision, a new discovery baffled them once more. There’s a species of jumping spiders that are actually color-blind: saitis barbipes.

Photo: Daily Motion/Antoine Herve

The males of the saitis barbipes species are adorned with orange-red crowns and radiant red legs. They make an exquisite display of these crowns and legs during a mating ritual. And yet, in their own eyes and in the eyes of their prospective mates, those radiant reds are bright green.

Saitis barbipes do not have photoreceptors for red, according to the latest study by Morehouse, a director of the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Research in Sensing, along with a team of international researchers.

Saitis barbipes are blind to their own reddish shade. They see themselves like green apples.

Photo: Daily Motion/Antoine Herve

“It’s a bit of a head-scratcher what’s going on here,” Morehouse remarked. “We haven’t solved the mystery of what the red is doing.”

The group thinks that the red and black markings of the saitis barbipes may be for better defense mechanism against predators. The colors probably create a blur that hides the saitis barbipes from predators with red vision in the reddish-brown leaf litter where these spiders hang out.

But Morehouse and his team acknowledge that these amazing saitis barbipes need further study to understand the sexual dimorphism of their kind which sees romantic red as green.

Written by Doris De Luna

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