The oldest spider living on earth has died, as reported by the scientists in Australia. At the time of its death, the spider was 43 years old. The name of this oldest spider on earth was Number 16, and it was a female Giaus Villosus trapdoor spider. The scientists found the spider dead during a long-term population study.
The eight-legged Number 16 spider was very poisonous and had outlived the world’s next oldest spider, a tarantula found in Mexico by a big margin of 15 years. Lead author of the study Leanda Mason a Ph.D. student at 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 behavior and population dynamics.”
Since its birth in 1974, the Number 16 spider was included in the population targeted for study. Researcher Barbara York initiated this long-term study of spider population. The main aim of the research work conducted in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia was to observe the mysterious trapdoor spiders and how they were successful in living for so many years. Mason informed that through Barbara’s detailed research, they were able to find out that the high longevity of the trapdoor spiders is due to their life-history traits which include how they dwell in uncleared, native bushland, their low metabolism, and their sedentary nature.
The scientists informed that these trapdoor spiders build burrows of about 30-centimeter deep with a cork-like trapdoor made of soil and vegetation, and sit inside them inactive with low metabolism. Hence much of their energy is saved and hence their lifespan gets increased. The trapdoor spiders are about 2-3 centimeters long and have powerful jaws along with sharp fangs. They catch their prey through their plant and soil camouflaged trapdoor burrows.
Scientists believe that studying the trapdoor spiders and their unique lifestyle will provide more insights into how these species will behave when global warming and climate change affects their habitat. Associate Professor Wardell-Johnson said. “These spiders exemplify an approach to life in ancient landscapes, and through our ongoing research we will be able to determine how the future stresses of climate change and deforestation will potentially impact the species.”