Scientists have discovered fossils of the largest spider


20/04/2011

Chinese spider, fossil remains of which were found by scientists, is, according to them, the largest of the detected to date.

This female, who lived about 165 million years ago, belongs to the family of spiders, which are now well understood - Nephila or zolotopryady.

These creatures weave a network of very strong golden web. The researchers told the journal Biology Letters, that Nephila jurassica, as they called this kind, had a span of 15 centimeters feet.

"It is the largest fossil spider," - said Professor Paul Selden from the University of Kansas, USA.

"Her body is not so great, but given the size of her legs - it is the largest," - he said.

Today, members of the family Nephila can be found all over the world - in tropical and subtropical regions.

Prior to this discovery, the oldest fossil remains of a spider in this family, there was a spider discovered in Inner Mongolia - one of the regions of China. His age was about 35 million years old.

Thus, this finding extends the time frame of the existence of the family Nephila up to the Jurassic period, making it the longest-lived genus of spiders.

No one can determine with certainty the reason for this representative spider died, but it is possible that it was a natural disaster.

The spider was encased in volcanic ash at the bottom of a former lake. Perhaps the ash from the eruption strangled her. Whatever the cause of her death, but it was well preserved.

"You can see not only the hairs on the legs, but even the smallest details such as trichobothria - very, very small in size. They are used to detect vibrations of the air," - said Professor Selden.

Nephila females today weave some of the largest networks of up to 1.5 meters in diameter. The size of females contrasts sharply with the size of males. On their background, females are giants.

This difference in size is a prime example of sexual dimorphism. Professor Selden and his colleagues, hoping to find out if this is inherent characteristic of the ancient representatives of the genus Nephila.

"Prior to this discovery, the oldest representative of the detected Nephila, was a male from the Cretaceous period in Spain," - said the scientist.

Original: BBC


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