Scientists figure humans may be born with a fear of spiders and snakes, healthy phobias that up the odds of survival in the wild. It’s not known how such an inborn fear might develop, however.
Now researchers have proven that unborn crickets can gain a fear of spiders based on their mother’s harrowing experiences.
Scientists put pregnant crickets into terrariums containing a wolf spider. The spiders’ fangs were covered with wax so the spiders could stalk but not kill the pregnant crickets. After the crickets laid their eggs, the researchers compared the behavior of the offspring with offspring whose mothers hadn’t been exposed to spiders.
The differences were dramatic, the scientists said.