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These spiders may have the world’s fastest body clocks

Three arachnid species experience the equivalent of five-hour jet lag every day

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4:00pm, November 14, 2017
spiny orb weaver

TIME WARP  This spiny orb weaver and two of its relatives may have evolved an impossibly short circadian clock by spinning their webs before dawn to avoid predators.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — If it takes you a while to recover from a few lost hours of sleep, be grateful you aren’t an orb weaver. 

Three orb-weaving spiders — Allocyclosa bifurca, Cyclosa turbinata and Gasteracantha cancriformis — may have the shortest natural circadian rhythms discovered in an animal thus far, researchers reported November 12 at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting.

Most animals have natural body clocks that run closer to the 24-hour day-night cycle, plus or minus a couple hours, and light helps reset the body’s timing each day. But the three orb weavers’ body clocks average at about 17.4, 18.5 and 19 hours respectively. This means the crawlers must shift their cycle of activity and inactivity — the spider equivalent of wake and

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