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Ancient arachnids discovery of Daddy long leg spider shocks scientists

It seems ancient arachnids are not what they are cut out to be after all. New research suggests daddy long spiders had more eyes than previously though. Scientists in eastern France published results from a recent study of a 305-million-year-old ancient arachnid fossil, which revealed that the species commonly referred to as "daddy longlegs," was four-eyed, according to an April 11 NewsMax report.

 Performance group 'La Machine' operates a 12-meter-tall spider during Expo Y150, the event to celebrate 150th anniversary of Yokohama port opening on April 28
Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Prashant Sharma, the author of the new study on ancient arachnid aka daddy long legs, is a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History. Within the joint study conducted by the New York-based museum and the University of Manchester in the UK, Sharma's group shed light on the harvestman, namely Hastocularis argus spider species. And if you think that's odd, watch the video above of a fish-like creature that had hind legs and walked underwater.

A complete history of ancient daddy long leg dating millions of years ago is lacking from many records. Oftentimes, when traces of fossilized spiders are discovered, their exoskeletons, which are very delicate, are largely not intact. As a consequence, extracting viable information from specimens usually presents a challenge to researchers.

Luckily, newer technologies have allowed scientists to draw different conclusions in the life and biological makeup of ancient arachnids. What is more, the specimen recently found was intact, which offered a bounty of new information to add to the scientific record.

Using advanced X-rays, Sharma and his peers soon realized that "extra lateral eyes" on either side of its body as well as the "median" eyes situated about its center. As an illustration, the "daddy long legs" species of today still fits this latter description.

Trivia : Although the "spider" with the long legs is given this handle today, it's really not a spider at all. Instead, the long-legged ancient arachnid offshoot is closely related to scorpions and crabs. Imagine that?

Fossils preserved in three dimensions are quite rare. This is especially true of harvestmen. Our X-ray techniques have allowed us to reveal this fossil in more detail than we would have dreamed possible two decades ago," said Russell Garwood, a research fellow at the University of Manchester.

Perhaps, the most significant discovery of the ancient arachnid species is that it's "cousin" of today only takes on the four-eyed appearance during the embryonic stage, citing an entry from the Epoch Times. This somewhat throws a monkey-wrench in the discovery, but doesn't detract from the merits of the new findings.

"As a result, some fundamental questions in the evolutionary history of these organisms remain unresolved. This exceptional fossil has given us a rare and detailed look at the anatomy of harvestmen that lived hundreds of millions of years ago," said Sharma of the daddy long leg, ancient arachnids discovery.

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