It is possible to make spiders creepier, ancient fossils in amber show

It is possible to make spiders creepier, ancient fossils in amber show

An global team of researchers has been investigating an "extraordinary" 100 million year old fossil of a new species called Chimerarachne yingi found in Myanmar.

The C. yingi amber fossils are exquisitely preserved, allowing two different teams of researchers to identify the creature's morphological features in striking details.

The spider lived on the islands of Myanmar - formerly Burma - during the mid-Cretaceous when Tyrannosaurus Rex ruled the planet. Alongside modern spider traits such as a silk-producing structure called a spinneret, it possessed a remarkably primitive feature: a whip-like tail covered in short hairs that it may have used for sensing predators and prey.

KU's Paul Selden said: "There's been a lot of amber being produced from northern Myanmar and its interest stepped up about ten years ago when it was discovered this amber was mid-Cretaceous; therefore, all the insects found in it were much older than first thought". But the presence of the whip-like tail - longer than the creatures' themselves - was a bit too much for Selden and his team to bundle into the arachnid family.

Other species of insects, including millipedes and modern spiders, were also found alongside the four chimaera fossils. All but the most primitive spiders have smooth backs, unlike the segmented abdomens of scorpions, which are believed to have diverged from an ancestral arachnid more than 430 million years ago.

Some 100 million years later, blocks of amber containing their fossilized forms wound up on the desks of two scientists in China. Scientists believe that the ancient species may resolve many loose ends in arachnid evolution. These specimens became available past year to Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, he added.

Luckily for everyone who hates spiders, these new animals were not very big according to the researchers.




Researchers think the spiders lived among the trees due to their amber coffins.

Specimens belonging to the newly identified species called Chimerarachne yingi were collected from the amber markets of Myanmar, where paleontologists have time and time again come across invaluable fossils.

"Taken together, Chimerarachne has a unique body plan among the arachnids and raises important questions about what an early spider looked like, and how the spinnerets and pedipalp organ may have evolved". The creature fills the gap between ancient arachnids with tails and true spiders, Ricardo Perez-De-La-Fuente of the Oxford Museum of Natural History told the BBC. "Animals that have a long whippy tail tend to have it for sensory purposes", said Selden.

The fossils are now so well preserved that, one can easily observe the head, fangs, male pedipalps, their legs and spinner rest at their back.

The telson is something we see it today in scorpions - but it has never been known before in a spider.

An extraordinary new species of arachnid, resembling a spider with a tail, has been discovered suspended in amber, a pair of new studies reported Monday.

The dorsal view of entire Chimerarachne yingi specimen. Some argue that spinnerets were the key innovation that allowed spiders to become so successful; there are almost 50,000 known spider species alive today.

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