Ecology of 30,000,000 Year Old Spiders

Science Daily has an interesting article on spiders trapped in amber. This is a subject I have blogged about previously here. According to the article 671 species of spiders, dating to approximately 30 million years ago, from the Baltic and the Carribean were compared. Here is a picture of one:


Here is a picture of one:
Spider%20amber.jpg
The results of the comparison were quite interesting:

By analysing the size distributions of the spiders and comparing the distinct hunting traits of each species, Dr Penney [lead author of the study - afarensis] found that web-spinning spiders were bigger in Baltic amber than in Dominican amber, but that there was no difference between hunting spiders in either region. It was also found the fauna of the amber producing trees in each region accounted for this difference in size.

Apparently the Baltic trees were bushier and provided a better environment for web spinning spiders. I, personally, like these kinds of studies because they show how we can learn about the past, even though we were not there to witness the events. I also think that if these kinds of studies, and the methodology behind them, (I’ll be pulling another example of a study of this type tomorrow morning) had more press, sciences dealing with the past might have an easier time of it.
If you would like to see more of Dr. Penneys’ spiders you can go here.
The abstract to the article can be found here

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5 Responses

  1. Interesting picture — isn’t that one of those freaky long-necked assassin spiders?

  2. It looks like one, but I’m not sure…So I emailed the PR officer that put out the press release. I’ll let you know if I get a reply.

  3. Dr. Penney responded to my email. Apparently the spider in the picture is from the family Theridiidae

  4. After Dr. Penney wrote me I emailed him the above picture and he identified it is Archaeidae. See also here, so the short answer is yes!

  5. Nice; thanks for checking that out. I think this picture of the assassin spider shows its shape better than the other one that was published recently.

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