London: Alike humans, old age creeps up on spiders too -- the insects lose the ability to weave neat webs as they approach the twilight of their life, says a new study by French researchers.
The researchers at the University of Nancy have found that while youngsters produce tidy circles with perfect angles and evenly spaced gaps, their older counterparts` efforts include gaping holes and eccentric patterns.
The older the spider gets, the more chaotic its web becomes -- in fact, the arachnids` simple brains degenerate over time in just the same way as people`s, according to the researchers led by Mylene Anotaux.
She says the spider`s short lifespan of just 12 months and its simple nervous system makes it ideal for experiments into the ageing process.
Aged 17 days, one spider in the study produced neat, regular webs. But, by the time it was four months old, the equivalent of middle age in spider years, its webs were filled with gaps and mistakes. And by eight months -- just 27 days before the spider died -- its webs were a mess.
Spider brains are made up of simple clusters of nerve cells connected to the nerves leading to the muscles and sensory organs.
Anotaux was quoted by the `Daily Mail` as saying, "Our next steps will be to understand whether age-induced changes in the central nervous system are behind the differences in behaviour we have found.
"Because of the importance of understanding behavioural mechanisms of ageing in humans, investigating simple animal models that assess ageing mechanisms is essential."