Many people, including the author of this article,afraid of spiders. Based on my own experience, I can say that this fear is rather irrational - I know that spiders (at least most of the species that live in Russia) will not harm me, but I am afraid of them from an early age to death. If you, too, suffer from arachnophobia or know someone whose heels sparkle at the mere sight of these arthropods, then you will probably be interested to know that the cause of fear lies in the very evolution of our species. This conclusion was made by scientists from the University of Columbia (USA). The work was published in the journal American entomologist.
According to the results obtained, at the earliestDuring the stages of human evolution, spiders posed a great threat due to their powerful venom, the ability to remain unnoticed and their behavior in front of victims; in fact, at the dawn of human evolution, only those with the special ability to detect these and other animal species could survive. Hence, the fear of this class of arthropods has become embedded in our DNA over time.
In their study, scientists write that peoplewere at constant, unpredictable and significant risk in the face of encounters with highly venomous spiders in their native habitat. Even when there was no mortal danger, the bite of, for example, a black widow in the ancestral world could render a person incapacitated for several days or even weeks, during which he was exposed to numerous dangers.
For some, the fear of spiders iscongenital, not acquired. According to some experts, spiders represent an evolutionarily persistent heritable danger that humans can face, even when they do not pay much attention to the environment. After all, our ancestors coexisted with these eight-legged creatures for millions of years, and knowledge of spiders and their life-threatening bites was critical to survival. Moreover, our visual system may have retained "ancestral mechanisms" designed to quickly detect immediate and specific threats that have persisted throughout evolution - for example, the ability to recognize snakes and spiders. Read more news from the world of popular science on our channel in Yandex.Zen.
To check if this is really so,the researchers invited hundreds of university students to solve a simple problem: the subjects had to choose the longest of two lines on a cross displayed on a computer screen. After the participants passed this test several times, the researchers added an object that glowed for several hundred milliseconds on the screen. These targets were modern threats (hypodermic needles), irrelevant insects (house flies), and primordially dangerous (spiders). Less than 15% of the subjects noticed and were able to locate the hypodermic needle in inattention blindness tests. Likewise, only 10% successfully spotted a housefly. However, when a spider or a shape resembling it quickly appeared on the screen, more than half of the study participants were able to spot the spider and determine which quadrant it appeared in.
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I note that today spiders do not represent suchserious danger to humans compared to the deep past. Only the bite of about 200 species out of 40 thousand is indeed a serious health problem, and is also the cause of about 200 deaths per year worldwide. Agree, not so much. But it is unlikely that people suffering from arachnophobia from this will cease to be less afraid of them. Are you afraid of spiders? Let's talk about fears of arthropods, rodents and snakes in the comments in our Telegram chat.