Anyone who has visited a zoo before can tell you that animals can be just as complicated as humans when it comes to their personality. Apes, gorillas and orangutans exhibit a range of emotions that seem to be just as sophisticated as human emotionality. This is not a surprise, as apes and humans are obviously closely related, but many other mammalian species, such as bears, goats and pigs, can also demonstrate that they are creatures that think and feel. Of course, you do not need to be a zoo-goer to know that humans are not the only animals blessed with personalities, as anyone who has owned multiple dogs can tell you that each individual dog definitely possesses its own distinct personality. Of course, it would be difficult to convince anyone that simple creatures like spiders also possess distinct personalities. After all, aren’t spiders driven by an instinct to feed, procreate, and not much else? Why would each spider species need to think? And why would individual spiders develop personalities when doing so would not benefit their survival in any way? Who knows, maybe spiders can increase their survival rates by using their charisma to charm their way out of predatory encounters. Most spider species do, in fact, operate on nothing more than basic survival instincts, but not all. For example, the spider species known as Anelosimus studiosus not only has personality, but they even spend their lives indulging in jobs that suit their personality types.
While it is true that some spider species possess social skills and personalities, you don’t want to take this claim too far. For example, it would be a mistake to start assuming that a spider web is anything more than a practical method of catching prey. Then again, maybe a spider web is actually an artistic creation that expresses something intangible about the existential dread facing all spiders, that we will likely never know. While individual spiders may show signs of having a personality, they certainly cannot become cultured; instead, a few spider species have developed personalities as a natural consequence of socializing with other spiders within a colony. That is right, just like bees, ants, termites, and wasps, some spider species are also social in nature. One of the most significant evolutionary adaptations that gave rise to personality formation among individual spiders of the Anelosimus studiosus species has to do with communal web building. These spiders are capable of trapping their own individual meals with their personally spun webs, but more spider prey can be gathered as long as numerous spiders socially cooperate in an effort to create one large nest. As many as 50 individual A. Studiosus species have been observed taking on different web-spinning duties that suit their individual personality types. While further studies need to be carried out on social spider species, there is little doubt that at least 50 spider species possess characteristics that are akin to what we call “personality.”
Would you find it interesting to observe a group of social spiders?