Scientists have announced the discovery of the world’s oldest known spider found in volcanic ash in northern China. Dubbed Nephila jurassica, the ancient female, resembled modern day golden silk orb-weavers, notorious for trapping birds as well as bats in their huge webs today according to Paul Selden, a paleontologist with the University of Kansas, who noted that several hundred fossils of the creepy crawlers have been found in the volcanic deposits at the Daohugou fossil beds in Inner Mongolia.
Even stranger is the fact that newly uncovered fossilized male spiders found in the same deposit had more primitive-looking sex appendages between their jaws and first legs that are employed to transfer sperm to their mates, which as led some researchers to believe that the arachnids may actually be more closely related to spiders in the Deinopoidea genus, also called ogre-faced spiders than Nephila as originally thought. This has caused the scientists to consider revising the original labeling of the pair and creating a new genus and species name for them, “Mongolarachne jurassica.”
To learn more readers can view Selden’s report in the Dece,mber 7th issue of the journal Naturwissenschaften.