Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Oldest known spider dies of wasp sting at age 43

AFP, SYDNEY

The world’s oldest known spider has died at the ripe old age of 43 after being monitored for years during a long-term population study in Australia, researchers said yesterday.

The trapdoor matriarch comfortably outlived the previous record holder, a 28-year-old tarantula found in Mexico, a study published in the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal said.

The spider did not die of old age, but was killed by a wasp sting, researchers said.

Named No. 16, the spider helped scientists to unlock important information about the behavior of an arachnid that can be found across Australia, including in domestic gardens.

“To our knowledge, this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behavior and population dynamics,” lead author Leanda Mason from Curtin University said.

A research project to study trapdoor spiders in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia was launched in 1974 by Barbara York Main, during which No. 16 was found and monitored.

“Through Barbara’s detailed research, we were able to determine that the extensive life span of the trapdoor spider is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bushland, their sedentary nature and low metabolisms,” Mason said.

The study also gave a better understanding of how the future stresses of climate change and deforestation could affect the species.

Trapdoor spiders traditionally have a life span of five to 20 years.

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