Understanding Evolution

Research Profiles : Aloha, spider style! :

Different smiles, single species

Despite the variation in colors (and underlying gene versions), all of the happy-face spiders:
  • have the same anatomical features,
  • interact in the same ways with their environment and with other organisms,
  • share the same reproductive behaviors and methods of catching insect prey, and
  • freely mate with one another.
More happy-face spider patterns

Rosemary Gillespie looking for spiders
Dr. Gillespie looking for spiders.
For these reasons, researchers consider happy-face spiders to be one species, even though individuals have different color patterns.

Intrigued by their variation, Drs. Rosemary Gillespie, Geoff Oxford, and Bruce Tabashnik, all then working at the University of Hawaii, set out to study the morphology, ecology, and behavior of these spiders. Let's follow their investigation as they learn more about the evolution of "smiling."


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Photos of happy-face spiders and Dr. Gillespie courtesy of Rosemary Gillespie, University of California Berkeley.

Understanding Evolution © 2018 by The University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, and the Regents of the University of California