The old spider of Australia

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The old spider of Australia

Postby inthegobi » Thu May 03, 2018 3:14 am

No doubt Australia is mourning the loss of the world's oldest known spider:

She was born beneath an acacia tree in one of the few patches of wilderness left in the southwest Australian wheat belt, in an underground burrow lined with her mother’s perfect silk.

Her mother had used the same silk, strong and thick, to seal the burrow’s entrance against the withering heat of the summer of 1974, and against all the flying, prodding things that prowled the North Bungulla Reserve.

She lived like that, in safety and darkness, for the first six months of her life. Then one day in the rainy autumn months, her mother unsealed the tunnel, and she left.

It’s likely that two or three dozen spiderlings left the burrow with her, and that nearly all of them soon died.

The 250-acre North Bungulla Reserve was surrounded completely by farmland and roads, abutting an abandoned gravel pit. Space was scarce under the leaves' protective shade, and competition was fierce. Most of the spider’s siblings would be eaten by birds or lizards or cannibalized by each other, or would bake to death in the sun.

But she was fortunate. She found an unoccupied patch of earth a few feet from her mother’s burrow and began to dig.

She dug an almost perfect circle straight down into the soil, just large enough to fit her body, a small fraction of an inch across. Then she lined the tunnel with silk, as her mother had lined the one in which she hatched.

For as long as she lived, this would be her only home.


Kind of a personal tone for a spider, but researchers get attached to their work, I know.

C Kirk
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Re: The old spider of Australia

Postby inthegobi » Thu May 03, 2018 3:45 am

Woops, almost forgot the pictures. But they come out too large for this format; the tunnel and 'front yard' of this species of trap-door spider is amazing.

C Kirk
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Re: The old spider of Australia

Postby Kent » Thu May 03, 2018 1:17 pm

You have another picture link? WaPo has a rather quick acting paywall.
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Re: The old spider of Australia

Postby inthegobi » Thu May 03, 2018 6:14 pm

I can view it free. My link is simply washingtonpost.com

These links might not work for you, but here they are.

The (butt of the) spider:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/resizer/ ... 5OODYY.jpg

Image

Her trap-door tunnel and 'front yard':

https://www.washingtonpost.com/resizer/ ... 274ENU.jpg

Image

C Kirk
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