When specialists on the nervous system wish to provide striking examples of the prodigious organization directing animal behaviour, possibly the animals referred to most frequently are bees, spiders and birds (especially migratory birds). Whatever the case, there is no doubt that these three groups constitute a model of highly evolved organization.
The fact that the text of the Qur’an refers to this exemplary trio in the animal kingdom is in absolute keeping with the exceptionally interesting character that each of these animals has from a scientific point of view.
In the Qur’an, bees are the subject of the longest commentary:
Sura 16, verses 68 and 69:
“Thy Lord inspired the bees: Choose your dwelling in the hills, in the trees and in what (man) built. Eat of all fruit and follow the ways of your Lord in humility. From within their bodies comes a liquor of different colours where is a remedy for men.”
It is difficult to know what exactly is meant by the order to follow the ways of the Lord in humility, unless it is to be seen in general terms. All that may be said, with regard to the knowledge that has been gained of their behaviour, is that here-as in each of the three animal eases mentioned as examples in the Qur’an-there is a remarkable nervous organization supporting their behaviour. It is known that the pattern of a bee’s dance is a means of communication to other bees; in this way, bees are able to convey to their own species the direction and distance of flowers from which nectar is to be gathered. The famous experiment performed by von Frisch has shown the meaning of this insect’s movement which is intented to transmit information between worker bees.
Spiders are mentioned in the Qur’an to stress the flimsiness of their dwelling which is the most fragile of all. They have a refuge that is as precarious, according to the Qur’an, as the dwelling of those who have chosen masters other than God.
Sura 29, verse 41:
“Those who choose masters other than God are like the spider when it takes for itself a dwelling. Verily, the flimsiest dwelling is the dwelling of the spider. If they but knew.”
A spider’s web is indeed constituted of silken threads secreted by the animal’s glands and their caliber is infinitely fine. Its fragility cannot be imitated by man. Naturalists are intrigued by the extraordinary pattern of work recorded by the animal’s nervous cells, which allows it to produce a geometrically perfect web.