Some "perlfunc" mention it:
in reply to Re: Surprised by split
in thread Surprised by split
As a special case, specifying a PATTERN of space (' ') will split on white space just as split with no arguments does. Thus, split(' ') can be used to emulate awk's default behavior, whereas split(/ /) will give you as many null initial fields as there are leading spaces. A split on /\s+/ is like a split(' ') except that any leading whitespace produces a null first field. A split with no arguments really does a split(' ', $_) internally.
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