Tue, Dec 23, 2008 - Page 13 News List

Scientist finds oldest spider web 科學家發現最古老蜘蛛網

Dew drops are seen condensed on a spider’s web on a cold morning in Bhubaneswar, India, on Dec. 11, 2008.
本月十一日寒冷的清晨,印度布巴尼斯瓦爾的一張蜘蛛網上可見凝結的露珠。照片:美聯社

PHOTO: AP

The tiny threads of the world’s oldest spider web have been found in a prehistoric piece of amber, a British scientist said last week.

Oxford University scientist Martin Brasier said the 140-million-year-old webbing proves that spiders have been catching their prey in webs since the dinosaur age. He also said the strands were linked to each other in the circular pattern familiar to gardeners the world over.

“You can match the details of the spider’s web with the spider’s web in my garden,” Brasier said.

The web was found in a small piece of amber picked up by an amateur fossil-hunter on England’s south coast about two years ago, Brasier said. A microscope showed tiny threads about 1mm long amid bits of burnt sap and fossilized vegetable matter.

Although it’s not a perfect web, it seems to confirm that spiders were building webs 145.5 to 65.5 million years ago when dinosaurs and small mammals shared the earth, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol scientist.

Spider experts believe that webs were developed even earlier, but the threads rarely leave any trace.

(AP)

一位英國科學家上週表示,在一塊史前琥珀中,發現了全世界最古老蜘蛛網的細微網絲。

牛津大學科學家馬丁.布雷西爾說,這個有一億四千萬年歷史的蜘蛛網證明了蜘蛛從恐龍時代就已經靠織網捕捉獵物了。他也說,這張細絲交織而成的圓形蛛網,對全世界的園丁來說並不陌生。

布雷西爾說:「這張蛛網和我家花園裡的蛛網沒什麼兩樣。」

布雷西爾說,某個化石愛好者約兩年前在英格蘭南部沿海發現一小塊琥珀,這張蛛網就保存在其中。透過顯微鏡觀察,可以在高溫灼燒過的汁液和植物化石間,看到約一公釐長的極小蛛絲。

布里斯托大學的科學家賽門.布萊迪說,雖然這蜘蛛網並不完整,但似乎可以確認在一億四千五百五十萬到六千五百五十萬年前,地球仍被恐龍和小型哺乳類動物統治的時期,蜘蛛就開始織網了。

蜘蛛專家相信,蜘蛛甚至更早以前就開始織網,只是幾乎沒有留下任何可以追溯的蛛絲馬跡。

(美聯社�翻譯:袁星塵)

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. prey n.

獵物 (lie4 wu4)

例: The eagle swooped in and snatched its prey from the rock.

(那隻老鷹突然俯衝到岩石間捕捉獵物。)

2. fossil n.

化石 (hua4 shi2)

例: Fossils are important to our understanding of dinosaurs.

(化石對我們認識恐龍有很大的助益。)

3. microscope n.

顯微鏡 (xian3 wei2 jing4)

例: I examined the fungus under a microscope.

(我用顯微鏡檢驗這個菌類。)

4. trace n.

遺跡 (yi2 ji1)

例: There was no trace of the house after the fire.

(那棟房子被大火燒個精光。)


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