Possibly the oldest spider fossil found in China

February 13th, 2010 - 9:11 pm ICT by Aishwarya Bhatt  

15546815 Beijing, Feb 13 (THAINDIAN NEWS) Scientists are abuzz with excitement, as they have found possibly the oldest spider fossil till date. It is believed to be a 165 million years old. It is quite historic as it dates to the middle Jurassic era. “The level of detail preserved in the fossils is amazing”, said paleontologist Paul Selden of the University of Kansas and lead author of the study, which appeared in the Feb. 6 in Naturwissenschaften. “You go in with a microscope, and bingo! It’s fantastic.”

This very rare 165 million years old spider fossil was found at a site called Daohugou in Northern China. Daohugou is already very popular for the fossils of salamanders, small primitive mammals, insects and water crustaceans. Selden said that in the Jurassic era, the fossil bed was a constituent of a lake in a volcanic region. This old fossil is creating such a huge buzz, because generally the spider’s bodies are very soft, so they get squished, and hence they aren’t preserved well. However in this case, it is preserved very well, and since it belongs to the mid Jurassic era, so the scientists are agog with excitement.

“At some point something caused their range to contract to this part of southern North America,” Selden said. He also thinks that the changes in vegetation during an ice age or other climactic event might be the reason for their lesser numbers, “but they were still happy in these arid areas of the Southwest.”

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