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Inside a tarantula spider's beating heart

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Scientists colour the MRI images to highlight organs. The heart is shown in lighter colours in the posterior part of the body.

Scientists have peered inside the whole body of a live spider for the first time, revealing its beating heart and guts.

Using a specialised Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, the researchers glimpsed the inner workings of a tarantula.

The scans showed blood flowing through the spider's heart, as well as revealing that the spider appears to use a double heart beat to push blood around its body.

Details of the scan were revealed at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting, which is being held in Glasgow, Scotland.

Researchers from Edinburgh University used MRI scanners at the Glasgow Experimental MRI centre.

These were previously used to allow scientists to examine rodents for medical research in an non-invasive way.

But by applying them to spiders, the researchers could also explore the inner workings of the large arachnid.

"In the videos, you can see the blood flowing through the heart and tantalisingly it looks as though there might be 'double beating' occurring, a distinct type of contraction which has never been considered before," says PhD researcher Gavin Merrifield of the University of Glasgow.

Read on and view brief clip of MRI scan



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