Dreamweaving

We’ve probably all had at least one dream about embarrassing ourselves at school in some way… which begs the bigger question – do other animals also dream about embarrassing situations?? Note here I said animals, as new research by Dr. Daniela Rößler’s team at the University of Konstanz suggests that not only the usual suspects such as dogs and cats, but other more surprising animals such as octopuses and worms dream as well! It turns out even spiders need that all too precious REM sleep.

Read more: Regularly occurring bouts of retinal movements suggest an REM sleep–like state in jumping spiders

One really cool thing from this study – most animal eyes don’t move like ours so it makes it challenging to actually pick up these sleep cycles. BUT because baby jumping spiders are translucent and have the neat feature of having movable retinal tubes, researchers can actually detect the rapid eye movement associated with REM sleep. This has really cool implications for understanding the evolutionary history behind sleep as well help us to better understand the physiological function of REM sleep.


Tanya Strydom is a PhD candidate at the Université de Montréal, mostly focusing on how we can use machine learning and artificial intelligence in ecology. Current research interests include (but are not limited to) predicting ecological networks, the role species traits and scale in ecological networks, general computer (and maths) geekiness, and a (seemingly) ever growing list of side projects. Tweets (sometimes related to actual science) can be found @TanyaS_08.

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