I was first introduced to the wonders of spiders in 1980, when I took a course in sensory physiology from Mike Land, who, if you know his work, is a world-class expert in eyes and vision and optics and comparative physiology. We mainly worked on jumping spiders in that lab because you could just walk outside in the Oregon spring and catch lots of them on the walls of the science buildings.
One of the cool things we learned is that jumping spiders have unusual eye anatomy. Their eyes aren’t spherical, they’re tube-shaped, and they actually function like a Galilean telescope. That’s right, jumping spiders are looking at you through a telescope — they can see things far away relatively clearly. These spiders can look up and see the stars.
We did various experiments on spider vision back then, but one thing we lacked was a spider with a transparent carapace, so we did everything with indirect behavioral and optical methods. This little video would have blown our minds.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 3, 2020
We dissected a few spiders and could clearly see the tube-like structure, but that didn’t communicate the dynamic activity of those little telescope eyes at all.