Skip to comments.Largest Fossil Spider Found in Volcanic Ash
Posted on 04/21/2011 7:31:32 PM PDT by greatdefender
The largest fossil spider uncovered to date once ensnared prey back in the age of dinosaurs, scientists find.
The spider, named Nephila jurassica, was discovered buried in ancient volcanic ash in Inner Mongolia, China. Tufts of hairlike fibers seen on its legs showed this 165-million-year-old arachnid to be the oldest known species of the largest web-weaving spiders alive today the golden orb-weavers, or Nephila, which are big enough to catch birds and bats, and use silk that shines like gold in the sunlight.
The fossil was about as large as its modern relatives, with a body one inch (2.5 centimeters) wide and legs that reach up to 2.5 inches (6.3 cm) long. Golden orb-weavers nowadays are mainly tropical creatures, so the ancient environment of Nephila jurassica probably was similarly lush. [Image of fossil spider]
"It would have lived, like today's Nephila, in its orb web of golden silk in a clearing in a forest, or more likely at the edge of a forest close to the lake," researcher Paul Selden, director of the Paleontological Institute at the University of Kansas, told LiveScience. "There would have been volcanoes nearby producing the ash that forms the lake sediment it is entombed within."
Spiders are the most numerous predators on land today, and help keep insect numbers in check. So these findings help us "understand the evolution of the insect-spider predator-prey relationship," Selden said, suggesting that golden orb-weavers have been ensnaring insects and influencing their evolution since the Jurassic Period. [Read: Ancient Spider Guts Revealed in 3-D]
"There were many large or medium-sized flying insects around at that time on which it would have fed indiscriminately," Selden said.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
I hate spiders; that however is cool.
Humanary stew ping.
That’s one old girl.
Nuked from orbit, killed with fire...whatever works.
From their description, it isn't apparent that much "evolution" has taken place. Same size as now, same environment as now, same type of prey as now. 165 million years of evolution and its the same old same old. But, hey, it helps us better understand the evolution of it all.
This spider just shows the questionable nature of “evolution” over the span of 165 million years.
No wonder the dinosauers are extinct. They probably gave up in disgust when these guys showed up. Can’t blame ‘em.
And for what cause is it that spiders stayed spiders and the ape family did not? I have seen TOE artwork and the ape family must have hybridized with something to have such extreme change... Globull warming must have always been with us.
Hard to tell how big it is. Wish someone would have laid a quarter next to it before taking the picture.
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I really, really like spiders. Large is good.
I positively hate the things. I’d no sooner ever see anything bigger than a wolf spider and the 12 gauge comes out.
SUCKS = noticing the palm sized wolf spider on the outhouse wall AFTER you’re fully commited...
I found a wolf spider in our house in Benicia, CA. What a gorgeous animal. It was so huge that I couldn’t figure out how it got in. I evicted it, as I do all spiders found in the house, but I was sorely tempted to keep it. Besides, the cats would probably have annoyed it.
Tarantulas are really cool too. South of the Carquinez Strait stands Mt. Diablo, where there are thousands of them, and during mating season, they’re all over the road leading to the top of the mountain. It’s really cool to see so many.
Spiders are vital predators, so I’m surprised that you feel that way about them.
They have cartilage rather then bone which makes them flex into very small locations if they need to.
Thanks. Not comforting, but thanks. I don’t mind the spiders getting in, but some other bugs aren’t welcome.
I wonder if the beautiful yellow and black Golden Garden Spiders are relatives of these big boys? They do keep the bugs out of spring gardens in the northeast, anyhow.
That is creeping me out.
Don't look, Wendy.
Golden Garden Spider
I ain't never been that committed. I'd waddle away, drawers around the ankles to get away. I can always shower later.
Gahhh!!!! Why did you post that??? Oh well, I didn’t really need to sleep tonight anyway.
Aaaarrrggggghhhhhh! I won’t be sleeping soundly for quite some time now. Thanks!
LOL. Only slightly better ;-P
Ew ew ew ew ew.... I knew I didn’t want to click on this thread.
As for the rest of you all....
Some folks don’t appreciate beauty.
Quick, smash it with a rolled up newspaper!
I *like* spiders and snakes.
[oh, stop looking surprised]....;]
The funnest thing is creeping through marshy woods at night and walking into a tree-spanning web, with the spider smacking you right in the face, all cold and flabby.
That’s why I learned as a boy to hike at night with a stick held up in front of my face!
Those are puppets right?
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