The World’s Largest Spider Fossil May Give You Nightmares

Pest Control A team of paleontologists from the University of Kansas have discovered the largest spider fossil ever recorded. The spider seems to be a close relative of the now living spider called the golden silk orb weaver. The fossil is amazingly old at a ripe one hundred and sixty five million years, which was during the Jurassic era.

Although the spider-fossil was certainly a surprise find to the team of paleontologists, they were nevertheless underwhelmed by the extremely small stature of the ancient arthropod. The bug measured a puny two inches when stretched, and only five centimeters when it was in a curled position. This small sized surprised the researchers because this arthropod lived during a time when bugs were of enormous stature.

In modern times our size, as well as the size of all animal on the planet are influenced by the oxygen levels in the air. More oxygen in the air means larger body size, which helps to accommodate the respiration of the extra oxygen. Back during this ancient arthropods time, hundreds of millions of years ago, the earth’s oxygen levels were extremely high. In order to illustrate the relative largeness of insects living under conditions with greater amounts of oxygen in the air a dragonfly with a wingspan measuring a full meter was a common bug back then. And if dragonflies to creep you out, millipedes could reach lengths of two and a half meters long. It is strange to consider that even the modern ancestor of this tiny fossilized spider is much larger. The golden silk orb weaver could reach lengths of five full inches. Scientists were also excited to see that this spider possessed spinnerets much like modern day spiders. This means that this ancient spider was spinning webs when dinosaurs were roaming the planet.

Can you recall scientists ever reporting a fossilized arthropod older than the one described in the above article? If so, what was the arthropod called?


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