Skip to Content

MRI Reveals Tarantula’s Double Beating Heart

Studying live animals via MRI can shed new light on their biology.

By putting a live tarantula into a special MRI scanner designed for rodents and other small animals, researchers discovered that the spider appears to have a unique heart beat.

An MRI image of a tarantula colored to highlight the heart in the posterior part of the body. Credit: Gavin Merrifield

“In the videos you can see the blood flowing through the heart and tantalisingly it looks as though there might be ‘double beating’ occurring, a distinct type of contraction which has never been considered before. This shows the extra value of using a non-invasive technique like MRI,” said researcher Gavin Merrifield, in a press release from the Society for Experimental Biology. Merrifield presented the research today at the society’s annual conference in Glasgow.

Researchers say that using this technology to study live animals could bring greater insight into their physiology and behavior. “One potential practical use of this research is to ascertain the chemical composition of spider venom,” says Mr. Merrifield. “Venom has applications in agriculture as a potential natural pesticide. On the more academic side of things if we can link MRI brain scans with a spider’s behavior, and combine this with similar data from vertebrates, we may clarify how intelligence evolved.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.