'Remarkable' Fossil of Tailed Arachnid Shakes Up Origin Theory of Spiders

'Remarkable' Fossil of Tailed Arachnid Shakes Up Origin Theory of Spiders

If you're one of the many people who have a fear of spiders, going back in time 100 million years apparently wouldn't have done you any good.

As a result, the species has been named Chimerarachne in reference to the Chimera - a monstrous fire-breathing creature from Greek mythology which was composed of limbs from various animals. The animal itself is only two and a half millimeters long, with its tail reaching three millimeters.

The tail was likely a sensory appendage, like an antenna, Selden said.

An ancient spider fossil trapped inside amber has baffled the scientists and they are now in doubts about the origins of spiders. It remains unknown whether it is weaving tissues to trap victims.

There were four of the tailed spider fossils found.

An artist's conception of what these tailed proto-spiders may have looked like.

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. This means that the Chimerarachne Yingi spiders lived alongside large herbivores like the Iguanodon and hadrosaurs, and even larger predators like the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Scientists have been able to fix another piece of the jigsaw in arachnid evolution because four Chimerarachne became trapped in forest resin millions of years ago, turning into to semi precious amber.

An artist's rendering of what the prehistoric spider might have looked like

"The ones we recognized previously were different in that they had a tail but don't have the spinnerets", says Selden.

Paul Selden, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas who unveiled that other ancient arachnid and worked with Wang to analyze this latest discovery, said he'd been waiting to find something like this ever since A. fimbriunguis was discovered.

Scientists have identified many spiders from this lineage in the same amber deposit from the Cretaceous period.

Selden told KU that it's likely the species lived in the bark or moss of the trees found in Mynamar's backcountry. "We haven't found them", says Selden, "but some of these forests aren't that well-studied, and it's only a tiny creature". "Egg-wrapping is a vital function for spider silk, as well as laying a trail to find its way back home". "Like all spiders it would have been a carnivore and would have eaten insects, I imagine".

"Chimerarachne fills the gap between Palaeozoic arachnids with tails known from rocks (uraraneids) and true spiders, and the fact the new fossils have been wonderfully preserved in Burmese amber has allowed an unmatched detail of study", he said.

Before getting too comfortable, arachnophobes should note there's a chance that tail-sporting descendants of Chimerarachne could still be alive in the jungles of Southeast Asia today, according to the researchers.

Both describe creatures so small they could fit on the tip of a fine-point pen, with eight legs and tiny but formidable fangs.

Another view of the holotype of C. yingi as it was preserved in amber for 100 million years...coincidentally the same number of nightmares today's announcement will foster.

Trump to be briefed on Democratic memo
There is nothing in their memo that speaks to the rest of the evidence presented to the FISA court for the Page warrant. Nunes was asked during a January 29 committee meeting whether he had coordinated the memo with the White House.

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