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Spiders with 'long whippy' tails found in 100 million year old amber

07 February 2018, 12:54 | Ross Houston

Spiders with 'long whippy' tails found in 100 million year old amber

Spiders with 'long whippy' tails found in 100 million year old amber

Co-author of the study, Russell Garwood of The University of Manchester, said that they had known for decades that spiders evolved from arachnids that had tails, more than 315 million years ago.

Researchers think the spiders lived among the trees due to their amber coffins. The BBC reports the "cousin" of the spider - called a Chimerarachne yingi - lived about 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.

They think that this tail acts like an antenna: "It's for sensing the environment".

The study, published in the journal of Nature Ecology and Evolutionon Monday, explains the name was inspired by the chimera, a creature from Greek mythology with a snake for a tail.

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. Comparison with fossils subsequently unearthed showed that this newly classified branch of arachnids differed from spiders - the Araneae - in several structural ways, notably in the positioning of silk-producing spigots, and a tail-like appendage, known as a telson, at the end of the abdomen. According to the researchers, it is even possible that some of this species queens are still present in the Myanmar forests.

This is a dorsal view of entire Chimerarachne yingi specimen.

Top right: Illustration of a remarkable arachnid from the mid-Cretaceous (approximately 100 million years ago) Burmese amber of Myanmar, which documents a key transition stage in spider evolution.

Among the four fossils, two of them were examined by Gonzalo Giribet at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Diying Huang at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing and their colleagues. No living spider has a tail.

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The new animal resembles a spider in having fangs, male pedipalps, four walking legs and silk-producing spinnerets but also bears a long flagellum or tail.

What will likely scare the vast majority of arachnophobes around the globe is that scientists have uncovered creepy tailed spiders in amber.

"Silk-spinning spiders with and without tails co-existed for millennia, the authors agree".

He said: "We don't know if it wove webs. Egg-wrapping is a vital function for spider silk, as well as laying a trail to find its way back home".

The creatures are less than a quarter-inch long (5.5 millimeters) including their tails, which account for half that length.

Spiders went up into the air when the insects went up into the air.

They do believe, however, it's likely the fossilised spiders' ancestors are still living in parts of the southeast Asian rainforest. Some argue that spinnerets were the key innovation that allowed spiders to become so successful; there are almost 50,000 known spider species alive today.

They look like these older creatures so it's rather a surprise to see them alongside spiders, he said of the insects found alongside the fossils. "We can only speculate that, because it was trapped in amber, we assume it was living on or around tree trunks", Selden said.



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