Monday, December 11, 2023

Megamonodontium mccluskyi: the discovery of a giant fossilized spider in Australia

“Without fossils, researchers can only rely on phylogenetic analysis of modern species to determine the evolutionary history of mygalomorph spiders. These analyzes suggest that the Miocene was a time of high diversity in this group. During that time, Australia experienced widespread drying that led to the decline of rainforest environments and the establishment of the current arid biome,” the report explains.

The remains were discovered by Dr. Simon McClusky. The name of Megamonodontium mccluskyi is composed of the words ‘mega’, meaning big, ‘monodontium’, the genus of arachnids, and ‘mccluskyi’, in honor of its discoverer.

The longhorn bee cocoon dates back 3,000 years; They are in perfect condition.

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Why are there no spider fossils?

Fossils of spiders are rarely found, as is the case with many other arthropods. When they die, their bodies decompose, pulverize and consume within a few days due to their composition based on layers of chitin protein. However, the spider remains dated back to the Devonian period, thanks to the unique environmental conditions in some parts of the world. The largest arachnid fossil known to date dates back to the Jurassic period, about 165 million years ago. This specimen is identified as Jurassica nephila and measured about 15 centimeters long from tip to tip.

“It’s hard to be a fossil. You have to die under certain circumstances, you have to have hard parts like bones, horns and teeth. So, the life history of a soft-bodied, like that of spiders, is patchy,” explained Alison Olcot, director of the University of Kansas Undergraduate Research Center, in a 2022 study on the conservation of spiders.

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