Discussion on Tarantula Cognitive Ability and Emotions

Cassiusstein

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Dec 9, 2016
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The purpose of this thread is to discuss tarantulas emotions, aswell as the notion of them having no cognitive ability. I have attempted a search on the forums, and yielded no dedicated thread, only small debates within mostly unrelated threads (if I'm wrong please provide a link).

Through my research I have heard two stories that need clarification;

Scenario A: Tarantulas have a very simple brain, consisting of two parts. The upper part intakes information, crude sight, mostly feel, ect.
Quote;
"It has two denominated parts - small upper brain, which gets information from visual and other nerves and lower brain greater size, having star-type form and executing main motor functions. It checks reflex and instinctive beginnings of the tarantula."

Scenario B: tarantulas are only a mass of nerves wih no brain, which begs the question how information is processed and acted upon.

In either scenario I suggest that you challenge your idea of what a brain exactly is, as we do not know exactly what said "mass of nerves" is properly capable of, whether that be emotions or simple instincts.

My personal questions are as follows;

Do tarantulas have decision making capabilities? I.e consciously deciding prey is too large, or one hide is more suitable than another. As opposed to this being instinct, undecidedly followed.

What exactly is the "happy dance" many of us observe tarantulas show when feeding? Is this simply nerves becoming over active due to stimuli? If so is that not the simplified definition of an emotion, proving cognitive ability?

It is proven that jumping spiders (Phiddipus sp.) have thinking abilities. I have attached a study "Observational Learning in the Jumping Spider Phiddipus audax", please notify my if the file does not work. What differs in the nervous system between the Phiddipus sp. and any tarantula species?
 

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cold blood

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They dont have higher brain function, in fact, they dont have a brain. Just a cluster of nerves, known as ganglion. These are instinctive, reactionary animals, they cant reason, they dont feel emotion.
 

viper69

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1. A MS thesis is not a peer-reviewed publication, and thus until the author's methods, data and interpretations are examined by peers for publication and rigorous scrutiny, the data is just that, data. I wouldn't use the word suspect, but it's not a publication.

2. The field of neurobiology actually knows a great deal about this said "mass of nerves" and its capabilities. There are numerous examples in the literature, model systems and such that have provided man with an excellent working knowledge of what types of cells, neurotransmitters, tissues and such are needed AND what a given "collection" of neurological cells are capable of.

3. The dance- scientists have speculated the laying down of silk in a circular pattern after prey acquisition is done to keep insects, such as ants, away. It is not nerves becoming over active due to stimul, that is pure crazy talk. Such physical action that you observe is an energy intensive process. Nature does not like to waste energy and resources.

If you have looked at a Ts neurobiology even from a basic anatomy diagram you would see that it's extremely limited.
 
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Cassiusstein

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1. A MS thesis is not a peer-reviewed publication, and thus until the author's methods, data and interpretations are examined by peers for publication and rigorous scrutiny, the data is just that, data. I wouldn't use the word suspect, but it's not a publication.

2. The field of neurobiology actually knows a great deal about this said "mass of nerves" and its capabilities. There are numerous examples in the literature, model systems and such that have provided man with an excellent working knowledge of what types of cells, neurotransmitters, tissues and such are needed AND what a given "collection" of neurological cells are capable of.

3. The dance- scientists have speculated the laying down of silk in a circular pattern after prey acquisition is done to keep insects, such as ants, away. It is not nerves becoming over active due to stimul, that is pure crazy talki. Such physical action that you observe is an energy intensive process. Nature does not like to waste energy and resources.

If you have looked at a Ts neurobiology even from a basic anatomy diagram you would see that it's extremely limited.

1. I'm simply providing some form of evidence, which I wish you would as opposed to belittling me like you love to do.

2. Again I ask that you provide evidence, as I've been researching and would love to learn.

3. Why is your speculation worth more than mine? Also, "Nature does not like to waste energy and resources." I never said it was a waste, I implied it could be a sign of emotion. Similar to a cat rubbing it's face on you, it does not know that it's leaving a scent, all it knows is that rubbing you feels good.

Again, instead of putting others down how about you help people in the right direction more often. All of us people who are new to the hobby get it, you're better than us. Prove it through teaching, not by pointing your nose up.

I've been doing research and I'm yet to find answers. So I come here for a discussion and to learn from fellow hobbyists. Yes I need to dig a bit deeper, but I was hoping to speed up the process while enjoying talking to some people.
 
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Ungoliant

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While it's not tarantula-specific, Biology of Spiders provides a good overview of the nervous system and senses, including cognition (if you want to call it that).
 

mistertim

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If you want to read some interesting stuff about how far some spiders can push their theoretically very limited "brains" (for lack of a better word) read about the hunting tactics of the Portia genus of jumping spiders. It's freaking wild some of the advanced tactics they use, considering the sort of neural hardware they have to work with.
 

Cassiusstein

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If you want to read some interesting stuff about how far some spiders can push their theoretically very limited "brains" (for lack of a better word) read about the hunting tactics of the Portia genus of jumping spiders. It's freaking wild some of the advanced tactics they use, considering the sort of neural hardware they have to work with.
Awesome, definitely gonna have to read up on this tonight. I've seen spiders do some pretty crazy stuff
 

viper69

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1. I'm simply providing some form of evidence, which I wish you would as opposed to belittling me like you love to do.

2. Again I ask that you provide evidence, as I've been researching and would love to learn.

3. Why is your speculation worth more than mine? Also, "Nature does not like to waste energy and resources." I never said it was a waste, I implied it could be a sign of emotion. Similar to a cat rubbing it's face on you, it does not know that it's leaving a scent, all it knows is that rubbing you feels good.

Again, instead of putting others down how about you help people in the right direction more often. All of us people who are new to the hobby get it, you're better than us. Prove it through teaching, not by pointing your nose up.

I've been doing research and I'm yet to find answers. So I come here for a discussion and to learn from fellow hobbyists. Yes I need to dig a bit deeper, but I was hoping to speed up the process while enjoying talking to some people.
I am NOT better than anyone including you, no one is. I'm merely different, as we all are. I don't take myself that seriously hah. If I died right now, it wouldn't matter the planet would keep turning hahahah.

This is a discussion thread you started, please don't take anything personal it seems you are. We are only discussing biology and literature sources or so I thought.

I have many things requiring my attention so some of my answers tend to be succinct, ie to the point, nor do I belittle people/put others down.

1. I realize you are providing information. I'm pointing out the quality of the evidence provided. In academia there is a "ranking" if you will of data. Data published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, that is called primary literature, carries the most weight for the reasons I mentioned above. Data in from a thesis alone, ie not published, carries the least weight. Primarily because no has seen if the experiments can be repeated. It's not science if it can't be repeated. However, if this data has been published in a peer-reviewed journal that would be interesting.

2. I don't have the time to provide you decades of neuroscience research. However, if I was you, I would do as I did when I wanted to learn more about biology. I would search PubMed and look for the articles there, you'll have to click on the link for Full Free Text, to read full articles OR, try Google Scholar for a more broad based search. PubMed generally only provides articles that are related to human medicine.

3. The information about the dance is not based on my thoughts; I'm not an arachnologist. I only provided it as your thread starts w/the word "Discussion". You are free to dismiss scientists' ideas in favor of another person's be it your own or someone else. It's still a relatively free country, not entirely though.

I never claimed you said it was a waste. Please quote me where I specifically typed that you said it was a waste? You misunderstood my reply.

My point was the activity we observe Ts perform upon prey capture is energy intensive. It must have a function otherwise it would be a waste of energy. Nature does not like to waste energy/resources.

Another energy intensive process is toxin production, unrelated here.
 
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terrariumkeeper

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Seems like an interesting topic. I found this article explaining the differences between spiderlings that remain in contact with the maternal parent and siblings and when they are isolated. They found that these spiderlings that stay with the maternal parent seem to have a better hunting behavior. So it is showing that they do have an ability to learn. This doesn't mean that they have a cognitive ability for decision making. This study was done with a true spider and not a tarantula so it couldn't be concluded the same with a T. It is definitely an interesting article you should give it a read.
Let me know if you can't open the article.

Punzo, F. & Ludwig, L. Anim Cogn (2002) 5: 63. doi:10.1007/s10071-002-0128-9
 

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viper69

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Seems like an interesting topic. I found this article explaining the differences between spiderlings that remain in contact with the maternal parent and siblings and when they are isolated. They found that these spiderlings that stay with the maternal parent seem to have a better hunting behavior. So it is showing that they do have an ability to learn. This doesn't mean that they have a cognitive ability for decision making. This study was done with a true spider and not a tarantula so it couldn't be concluded the same with a T. It is definitely an interesting article you should give it a read.
Let me know if you can't open the article.

Punzo, F. & Ludwig, L. Anim Cogn (2002) 5: 63. doi:10.1007/s10071-002-0128-9
Nice find! Thanks for the primary literature, hadn't seen this one before.
 
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