Jumping spiders' vision explained in viral video featuring UH scientist

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(Image credit: Day's Edge Productions GMBH and Veritasium, Incl.)

A university of Hawaii The Mānoa professor is trending on YouTube with her explanation of how jumping spiders can help us understand color.

Professor Megan Porter from the School of Life Sciences is one of several scientists featured in Veritasium's video. The video was viewed more than a million times in just one day and has reached almost two million views in just three days.

speaking person
Megan Porter (Photo credit: Day's Edge Productions GMBH and Veritasium, Incl.)

“I was amazed but also pleased that so many people were interested in understanding the science of color vision in jumping spiders,” Porter said.

Porter and a team of researchers are studying the world's six thousand species of jumping spiders to understand the evolution of color vision. Unlike most spiders, jumping spiders are active hunters that rely on a remarkable visual system to attack. They have eight eyes specialized for different tasks, with the large, forward-facing eyes providing exceptional color and detail within a narrow field of view.

Person researching in a forest
Megan Porter (Photo credit: Day's Edge Productions GMBH and Veritasium, Incl.)

The video helps viewers understand color by exploring the evolution, biological mechanisms and different perceptual systems of color vision in jumping spiders, providing insight into the complexity of sensory perception across different species.

“Jumping spiders are not only charismatic animals, but they are also a fantastic example of the many different ways in which animals have evolved to develop color vision,” said Porter. “The film does a phenomenal job of explaining the mechanics of color vision and showing why studying the differences in other animals' color perception can lead to a better understanding of our own perception of the world around us.”

two small spiders
(Image credit: Day's Edge Productions GMBH and Veritasium, Incl.)

The film was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant entitled “Joint Research: Repeated Evolution of Color Vision in Jumping Spiders: An Integrated Approach to Understanding the Diversification of Visual Systems and Signals.” The NSF The funding enabled the crew to film the research team’s field work in Hawaii and South Africa, together with laboratory work on UH Mānoa and other institutions.

Veritasium's YouTube page has more than 15.7 million subscribers and features engaging and informative videos on a wide range of scientific topics, with the goal of explaining complex concepts in an understandable and entertaining way.

The School of Life Sciences is located in UH Mānoas College of Science.