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The Science of a Real “Spider-Sense”

I have a confession to make: I’ve been trying to science Spider-Man for years now, and every time I’ve been asked about it, I’ve always dismissed the so-called “spidey sense” without ever really looking into it. And now that I have, I have to apologize–I was so wrong! Spiders have, tarsal claws down, some of the best senses of any organisms on this planet, and if he had them, they would definitely make Peter Parker amazing.

In my latest episode of Because Science, I’m catching spiders’ three major sensory systems in my web of science. Two of them–tactile hairs and what are called trichobothria–are hair-based, responding to touch and fluid flow (like air currents), respectively. The third–slit sensilla–is a fascinating structural element peppering every spider exoskeleton that is unlike anything we humans feel with. Taken together, spiders have evolved a spectacular sense of their surroundings. They operate, literally, at the limits of the physically possible.

After you watch the new episode, check out my last video on why you don’t want x-ray vision, buy a Because Science shirt, mug, hat, or collectible pin, and follow me on Twitter or on Instagram to give me a suggestion for the next episode. Want Because Science days before anyone else? Subscribe to Alpha for access to the show two full days before anyone else.

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