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When a tiny jumping spider gets tired of jumping, it may be able to relax in a decidedly human way - by watching television.Animal behaviorist David Clark of the University of Cincinnati has found that, unlike some animals, the jumping spider can perceive smooth motion in televised images, a discovery that could lead to new information about how the animals communicate.But other animals - chickens, chimps, cats and some lizards among them - do fall below the 60-frames-a-second rate, joining humans in the faunal kingdom’s great potential television audience.
This can be accomplished only if there are enough pictures flashing by in any given instant.
Clark, working with behavioral ecologist George Uetz, decided to explore the question."I could have worked with a number of animals for this study," Clark says.
"But I chose spiders because they have good vision and communicate with each other almost entirely by visual displays.
To perceive seamless motion, the average person needs between 16 and 55 images a second, a figure comfortably below a television’s rate of 60 pictures a second.
The nonhuman eye, however, is tougher to fool: using brain electrodes, researchers have found that some animals, such as pigeons and bees, need hundreds of pictures a second before perceiving smooth, fluid motion.
In some cases different images were shown on each television to see which elicited the greatest response.