SCIENCE
12/19/2012 05:20 pm ET

Fake Spider: South American Arachnid Creates Decoy To Deter Predators, Biologist Says (PHOTOS)

Looking for another reason to fear spiders? Scientists in South America believe they've discovered a spider capable of building even bigger spiders.

The striped species, believed to belong to the genus Cyclosa, has been observed constructing large replica spiders in webs across the Peruvian Amazon, Popular Science reported. The fakes are roughly four times the size of the real thing.

"From afar, it appears to be a medium-sized spider about an inch across, possibly dead and dried out, hanging in the center of a spider web along the side of the trail," biologist Phil Torres, one of the scientists responsible for the discovery, wrote in a blog. "Nothing too out of the ordinary for the Amazon. As you approach, the spider starts to wobble quickly forward and back, letting you know this spider is, in fact, alive."

He continues, "Step in even closer and things start to get weird -- that spider form you were looking at is actually made up of tiny bits of leaf, debris, and dead insects. The confusion sets in. How can something be constructed to look like a spider, how is it moving, and what kind of creature made this!?"

For the time being, Wired reported, scientists believe these creations serve one primary purpose--they act as a decoy in the event of an attack by a predator. A hungry bird, for example, might take out the fake spider and miss the real one.

Other Cyclosa species have been observed building fakes, but these decoys have yet to approach the level of detail of the fake spiders found in the Peruvian Amazon. According to the BBC, other spiders have constructed fake egg sacks and "prey pellets;" nothing, so far, with clearly defined legs that might resemble the spider itself.

PHOTOS of the spiders (both real and fake):

PHOTO GALLERIES
As If We Needed More Reason To Fear Spiders

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