The sensory capacity of male spiders during mating may be higher than previously thought, a study in the open access journal Frontiers in Zoology suggests.
In most species, nervous tissue is considered to be an inherent property of male copulatory organs. In spiders, these organs are situated on appendages in front of the four walking legs. They were previously thought not to possess any nerves, muscles or sense organs, because they were thought to develop from the same cells that also make up a spider’s claws, which are devoid of nervous and muscular tissue.
Peter Michalik, one of the corresponding authors of the study said: “Male spiders do not have direct sperm transfer organs, but transfer sperm via the tip of their pedipalps, which are transformed leg-like structures at the front of their bodies. They were thought to be numb and only recently two studies on two distantly related spider species suggested otherwise. Here, we show that the copulatory organs of male spiders have nerves and even contain sensory organs.”