Fossil reveals spider in mid-strike
Predator and prey, together forever
A hundred million years ago, an amber flow spoiled a spider’s day: it had waited, possibly for hours, to ambush a wasp in its web, and just as it decided to strike, spider, wasp and web were all trapped forever.
The good news for us is that it’s turned up at a dig in Myanmar's Hukawng Valley, and here's what it looks like:
Caught in the attack. Source: Oregon State University
The Early Cretaceous fossil preserves – with stunning clarity – the juvenile spider about to make a meal of a parasitic wasp that was trapped in its web. As Oregon State University professor emeritus George Poinar Jr put it: "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."
The findings, published in Historical Biology, represent the first time a spider attack has been found as a fossil. The spider is an orb weaver, Poinar said; relatives still exist today, although the kind in the amber is extinct. The wasp is a relative of species which today are parasites on both spiders and their eggs.
There are also fifteen unbroken strands of the spider’s web also preserved in the fossil, the researchers say. More at Oregon State University. ®
Things like this always make the fossil/mineral collector in me smile :-)
Re: Nice find!
Just thought I'd counter the unnecessary down vote you received.
Some people on here seem to be inexplicably negative about perfectly innocuous comments.
Re: Nice find!
I own a tiny piece of amber with a little tiny fly in it. I used to have the details of the exact dates, etc. but can't find them now.
I find it wonderful, even if it's nowhere near as magnificent as this one. I actually kept my QX3 just so that I could look at the insect (which is very near an internal crack / impurity in the amber so is difficult to spot from some angles).
It always makes me wonder just how they get caught in it - I mean, did it drop from the tree onto their heads (surely that would squish them slightly), did it ooze around them (and then you'd have expected the spider to let go or be seen to be moving away), or what?
My tiny fly, hell, it could have been dead before it even ended up in there - it's hard to tell. But this one makes amber take on a whole new menace for insects. Future sci-fi plot anyone?