Here's a link to a recently-released video which, if it is confirmed, is pretty incredible.  It shows the actual footage in the rainforest at night of the discovery of a new spider, and one with an amazing talent. 

The discovery of this new spider and its incredible sculpting ability was reported last month in Wired magazine, in an article entitled "Spider That Builds Its Own Spider Decoys Discovered."  That article describes how this tiny spider, believed to be a member of the species Cyclosa, uses leaves, debris and bits of dead insects to fashion a much larger spider-shaped "sculpture" in the middle of its web.  As the video above shows, the image crafted by these spiders actually has the correct number of spider-legs, and the tiny builders even go so far as to give their artistic creations distinguishable abdomen and cephalothorax body sections.

But that's not all: the tiny spider artists will then pluck the strands of the web in order to cause their creation to jiggle and dance as if alive.  More information on the discovery of this tiny (5mm) spider in the Peruvian Amazon can be found on the blog of Phil Torres, a biologist and one of the discoverers in the video.

This behavior is completely astounding.  

Although biologists are already speculating that the spiders build these incredible decoys as a defensive measure, perhaps to scare off or divert predators, they really do not know yet what these spiders are really up to. While some may attribute this incredible "effigy-building" ability to natural selection, and call it an "adaptation" (implying that some web-building spiders who could not create self-portraits existed in some long-distant past, and then they "adapted" their web-building to include the construction of large spider sculptures in the middle of their webs), this discovery may one day come to rank as one of the most challenging pieces of evidence in the natural world for the theory of natural selection, if examined impartially.

Is it really plausible to argue that the existence of spiders building accurate spider-effigies in the middle of their orbs came about by random mutations in the genes of this line of spiders, resulting in spiders which now are born with the ability to gather dead leaves and bits of insect carcasses and bind them together into large spider shapes complete with the correct number of legs and a definable abdomen and cephalothorax?

Are we to believe that the ancestors of these spiders were the ones who built their effigies with eight legs, while the line of genes representing orb-spinners who built sculptures with only five, six, or seven legs (or nine, ten or eleven legs) all died out?  Did some ancient spiders get genetic mutations which caused them to construct effigies depicting elephants or dolphins, but because those shapes were not as effective at scaring off predators, those hapless arachnid artists were eaten before their genes could come down to the present day?

Although the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection is triumphant among conventional academicians today, this does not mean that it is correct.  In fact, previous posts have explored the extensive evidence which suggests that natural selection may be entirely wrong.  While some believe that supernatural creation is the only alternative to acceptance of the Darwinian (or neo-Darwinian) theory of natural selection, this is not entirely true (although it is of course one possible alternative).

It is at least as possible to believe that aliens or other advanced beings capable of genetic engineering tampered with these spiders to impart this ability to them (for some reason we can hardly fathom, perhaps just for fun) as it is to believe that natural selection gave them such a trait.  In fact, we have already discussed the fact that genetic engineering by beings with advanced abilities (whether human beings or alien beings) is at least as plausible an explanation for the existence of domesticated animals and grain crops as is the unlikely idea that a bunch of hunter-gatherers selected the right species to try to domesticate and then embarked on a project that would take dozens of generations (at least) of selective breeding (and even dozens of generations of selective breeding probably would not be able to do the trick: does anyone think that humans could simply breed the mighty American bison aka buffalo into something akin to domestic cattle?  It cannot be done that way).

There have also been respected scientists who have believed in some sort of evolution while rejecting the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection, such as botanist J.C. Willis (1868 - 1958).  He pointed out numerous reasons, mainly using his field of botany, that natural selection is an unsatisfactory model for explaining the evidence that we find in nature.  He proposed a very different model of evolution, propelled forward by the general laws of the universe, and speculated that the law which created new species was "probably electrical" (and in doing so, he can be seen to have anticipated the importance of electricity in the universe, the centrality of which is only now beginning to be fully appreciated by cutting-edge research in the field of plasma science and related subjects).

The building of astonishingly accurate effigies by this species of spider in the Peruvian Amazon may also be interpreted as a piece of evidence that seems to support the idea that there is "consciousness" that exists separately from the physical bodies of the beings on this planet (including the human beings) and which "works its way out" through us, much in the way that a radio or television signal can be received or displayed by a radio or a television, even though it is not produced by the radio or the television.

One could argue that these spiders are manifesting "spider consciousness" in a way that has never been seen before, but that might now start popping up in other spiders around the world!  If it does, that would be a powerful piece of evidence supporting Rupert Sheldrake's "morphic resonance" theory.  Even if these Amazonian effigy-builders are the only spiders that ever are observed to build such detailed spider sculptures in their webs, they can still be seen as a piece of evidence which may support the "transmission" or "manifestation" of consciousness theory.

We might also offer the possibility that these spiders are watching one another and learning how to do it, although that doesn't explain where the behavior came from in the first place, and it is also probably quite easy to disprove by isolating a spider from birth and seeing if it builds these types of web designs (it probably will).  There is already plenty of evidence that spiders build the distinctive web of their species by instinct, not by observing the webs of other spiders.

All of these possibilities are certainly worth pursuing.  The only reason they seem to be "on the fringe" is that the establishment has fully bought into the Darwinian theory, and refuses to countenance any alternatives.  This is both unfortunate and unscientific. 

All that discussion aside, the discoverers of this new and incredible spider are to be congratulated, and we should all be grateful that they were so observant while trekking through the Amazon in the dark!