Researchers from the Alma College, the Ohio State University at Newark and the University of Cincinnati have discovered that a male wolf spider "eavesdrops" and imitates new dance moves from a successful rival spider's courtship rituals while trying to impress a female. This behaviour is seen only in vertebrate animals like mammals, fishes and birds.

The researchers discovered that the experimental lab wolf spider imitated the dance moves of another wild wolf spider.

A video of a wild wolf spider that was leg tapping and dancing to attract female spiders was played for the lab spider. The experimental spider very quickly learnt the moves of the other spider and started imitating them.

According to the researchers, such behaviour is seen in birds, mammals and fishes; they have male-to-male combat and usually one male spies on the other to learn more about the rival's strengths and weaknesses.

"Eavesdropping on the communication of others is widespread among animals and often serves as a means of obtaining information. For example, studies of birds, mammals and fish have shown that male bystanders observing male-male contests can learn about the strengths of potential opponents, while female observers may copy the mate choices of others," says David Clark, co-author and professor of biology at Alma College. "This new discovery shows that male wolf spiders also eavesdrop on the visual signals of courting males."

"This 'signal matching' behavior has only been seen before in vertebrate animals like birds or fish, and suggests that invertebrates like spiders may have more sophisticated behaviors than previously known," says George W. Uetz, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati in U.S. "The closer we look at spiders, the more complex we see they are - their capacity for learning, memory and decision-making is far greater than we ever would have thought."

Wolf spiders are found in North America. Wolf spiders get their name because of their unique behaviour - they usually chase and pounce on the prey just like a wolf does. The wolf spider is a nocturnal creature. It has three rows of eyes, the bottom row has four small eyes, the middle row has two big eyes and the upper one has two medium-sized eyes, and it can run much faster than any other spider.

Take a look at the video of the lab wolf spider imitating its rival's moves.