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Died the world's oldest spider

Died the world's oldest spider

No, not so you can pick her up and flush her down the toilet but because the world's oldest known spider has died at the age of 43.

According to a report in Pacific Conservation Biology, the ancient trapdoor spider was killed by a wasp sting in the country's Central Wheatbelt region recently.

Lead author Leanda Mason from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University said, 'To our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider's behaviour and population dynamic.

In addition to breaking a new record, the death of this spider at age 43 also demonstrates that long-term research is essential to understanding how different species live in the Australian environment and how they might evolve in the future to adapt or not to climate change.

Trapdoor spiders catch their prey in particularly shrewd fashion, by making trapdoors that are often hinged on one side with silk, and which are surrounded by silk "trip lines".

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The study on the tiny, eight-legged creature was started by Barbara York Main, a biologist specializing in the study of spiders, and later taken over by the researchers at the Curtin University, Australia.

Females don't get out too much and are known to stay in or around their burrow for much if not all of their lives, making Number 16 an easy specimen for the scientists to research and, apparently, grow rather attached to.

Before meeting her violent end, Number 16 lived a long life of solitude inside her burrow, punctuated by regular visits from male suitors, Mason said. The name of this oldest spider on earth was Number 16, and it was a female Giaus Villosus trapdoor spider. Unlike other spiders, they do not have a web to live on.

The lifespan of a trapdoor spider is between five and 20 years. "We're really miserable about it", Mason tells Bodkin. The impacts of climate change are largely detrimental for spiders, driving numerous world's cave spiders toward extinction. York Main, the researcher who launched the study, is now 88 years old.

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