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Researchers find fossil of ancient spider attack

Image of ancient spider attack preserved in amber.
Researchers have announced a finding that they describe is currently one-of-a-kind. The scientists have shared a discovery of a fossilized ancient spider attack, frozen in time inside a piece of amber.
A team from Oregon State University has shared a discovery of a prehistoric spider attack that is approximately 100 million-years-old. This snapshot in time is a rare finding and is the oldest evidence of a spider attack.
“This juvenile spider was going to make a meal out of a tiny parasitic wasp, but never quite got to it,” George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus of zoology at Oregon State University and world expert on insects trapped in amber, said in a press release.
Researchers said this event occurred in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar in the Early Cretaceous Period, and is estimated to have happened between 97 and 110 million years ago. Live Science reported the amber was excavated in a Burmese mine. The interaction was captured when tree resin flowed over the insects and formed amber, preserving the scene.
“This was a male wasp that suddenly found itself trapped in a spider web,” Poinar said. "This was the wasp’s worst nightmare, and it never ended. The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them.”
Additionally, researchers said the body of another spider, described as a male, was also on the web, along with about 15 strands of spider silk preserved in the amber.
"Most spiders have solitary, often cannibalistic lives, and males will not hesitate to attack immature species in the same web," researchers said and pointed to ancient social behaviors of spiders.
The spiders and wasp species are all now extinct, according to the scientists.
The full research is published in the October issue of the journal Historical Biology.

6 comments

#1Oct 12, 2012 Gar Swaffar
What an amazing find that is. And just who would be looking for that while mining anything else?
#2Oct 12, 2012 Anne Sewell
Wow! Amazing! (and scary too!).
#3Oct 12, 2012 Alexander Baron
Are you sure it wasn't a crab?
#4Oct 12, 2012 Leigh Goessl
@Gar Swaffar
What an amazing find that is. And just who would be looking for that while mining anything else?
@Anne Sewell
Wow! Amazing! (and scary too!).
I don't know, but I agree! Of all the places this could potentially be, to just find something like this...
@Alexander Baron
Are you sure it wasn't a crab?
Still trying to find that ancient crab to write about, I think I've written about almost every other kind LOL
#5Oct 13, 2012 Phred C
(*brrrrr!*)
#6Oct 16, 2012 Grass Hopper
Prehistoric insects captured in time for millions of years. "The interaction was captured when tree resin flowed over the insects and formed amber, preserving the scene."
I heard that Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the 15th Prime Minister of Canada http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Trudeau was dug up from his grave, stuffed, and put on display in a Conservative Party of Canada private museum.
I freely admit that this rumor,and somewhat like a Zambito story. http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/27/construction-boss-tells-quebec-construction-inquiry-he-was-part-of-cartel-like-system-of-collusion/
The question is, who or what do I want to preserve for a million years ? I shall give this very important question much consideration in the following days. Thanks for the inspiration Leigh Goessl. Great story.

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