Aug 21, 2009

Scientists Seek Out Even More Spiders in Fossil Record

As if I didn't have enough spiders to worry about, scientists have decided to dredge up the past, like an ex-girlfriend who loves to glory in your youthful follies, and find spider fossils in iron carbonate sediment.

Till now there have been a number of obstacles to studying such fossils, but with new techniques and new equipment, researchers are able to recreate stunning images of the fossils, including the 3D rendering of the spider below, determined to be upwards of 300 million years old.

Photo source: Natural History Museum and Imperial College London via New York Times

The spider, dug up in Mazon Creek, Illinois, USA, is said to belong to an extinct order of spiders known as the trigonotarbids (this extinction is the only good news in this article). These new images reveal spines and and ball-like growths on the legs that hadn't ever been seen before. And the even better news is that there's no shortage of specimens to study.

Yippee, more nightmares to be dug up. I'll tell you what -- these paleontologists are like the frigging dwarves of Moria. Don't they know what happens when you delve too deeply? You'll find yourself with a life-size image of Shelob, and then a Balrog over your shoulder.

Thanks for the article, Jeff.

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