March 17, 2010

From David Ewing:

Re: Cricket babies "warned" about spiders before birth (Feb. 22): Storm and Lima's experiments seem to indicate conclusively that a pregnant cricket's exposure to a threatening spider will produce more cautious behavior in the offspring born of the eggs she's carrying at the time. How the experimenters or World Science made the jump to conclude that "information" is being transmitted, or that such infomation, if transmitted, must be specifically about spiders, is wholly unexplained. It seems more likely that a hormonal change might produce offspring with an elevated level of apprehension, or perhaps even an alertness to the danger of predators. Does such a change in the cricket's state of mind constitute "information?" And why do the authors think the response is specifically geared to spiders? Have they tried other predators or well established threats? It sounds to me like they have more work ahead to prove the headline.


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