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Fossil of huge fossil of Spider found in (where else) Australia

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  • Fossil of huge fossil of Spider found in (where else) Australia

    An exceptionally well-preserved fossilized remains of a massive trapdoor spider that lived some 11 to 16mya has been found in McGraths Flat region of New South Wales in southeastern Australia. The discovery represents a new genus of spider and appears to be related to the modern Monodontium (a brushed trapdoor spider) but is five times larger. It was named Megamonodontium mccluskyi after Simon McClusky, who found the specimen.

    McGrath Flats is a very dry area (mostly grassland) today, but back when Megamonodontium mccluskyi lived there it was a wet tropical forest. The fossil itself was part of a large collection of fossils called an assemblage, this is when a large number of fossils are found together.

    Robert Raven, the supervising author of the study, and an arachnologist at Queensland Museum, said the find is "not only is it the largest fossilized spider to be found in Australia but it is the first fossil of the family Barychelidae that has been found worldwide."

    University of Canberra Associate Professor, Michael Frese, who used stacking microphotography to scan the fossils seemed pretty enthusiastic declaring that the technique "allowed us to study minute details of the claws and setae on the spider's pedipalps, legs and the main body. Setae are hair-like structures that can have a range of functions. They can sense chemicals and vibrations, defend the spider against attackers and even make sounds."

    The specimen itself represents a complete part and counterpart of an adult female spider and is the second largest fossil spider ever unearthed (the largest isn't really much bigger, dates to the Jurassic of China and is known as Mongolarachne jurassica).


    Source: Australian scientists discover rare spider fossil that could be up to 16 million years old


    Scientists in Australia have discovered the fossilized remains of a trapdoor spider, the largest to date in the country.

    The fossilized spider was found near Gulgong, New South Wales, last week by a team of scientists led by Matthew McCurry, a paleontologist with the University of New South Wales and the Australian Museum Research Institute.

    “Only four spider fossils have ever been found throughout the whole continent, which has made it difficult for scientists to understand their evolutionary history," McCurry said in a news release. "That is why this discovery is so significant, it reveals new information about the extinction of spiders and fills a gap in our understanding of the past.”

    The discovery is also the biggest of all the fossilized spiders found in Australia, Queensland Museum arachnologist Robert Raven said, according to the release.

    “The closest living relative of this fossil now lives in wet forests in Singapore through to Papua New Guinea. This suggests that the group once occupied similar environments in mainland Australia but have subsequently gone extinct as Australia became more arid,” McCurry said in the release.

    The fossil measures just under 1 inch, according to the research paper, but trapdoor spiders are usually smaller.

    Researchers said the spider − named Megamonodontium mccluskyi − is an estimated 11 million to 16 million years old. It was discovered at the McGraths Flat, an Australian research site, and is believed to be the first fossil of the Barychelidae family found worldwide, the Australian Museum said in the release.

    The fossil remains at the museum for researchers to study.

    What does the fossil look like?

    The spider, named after its discoverer, Simon McClusky, is similar to a trapdoor spider. According to Raven, 300 species of the brush-footed trapdoor spiders are alive today but don't fossilize.

    Michael Frese, professor at the University of Canberra, says the creature has hairlike structures on its appendages that allow it to sense chemicals and vibrations. He said it helps the spider defend itself against attackers and to make sounds.

    Researchers said it is the second-largest spider fossil found in the world, nearly 1 millimeter smaller than the Mongolarachne jurassica that roamed in modern-day China.

    In the U.S., brush-footed trapdoor spiders are found between Florida and Virginia and west to California, according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson. Typically, the spiders feast on arthropods and small lizards and are killed by parasitic wasps.



    Source

    © Copyright Original Source




    The full paper, A large brush-footed trapdoor spider (Mygalomorphae: Barychelidae) from the Miocene of Australia can be accessed by clicking the hyperlink although I've included the abstract from it below

    Abstract

    The aridification of the Australian continent led to the diversification of mygalomorph spiders in the Miocene, but a depauperate fossil record has made it difficult to investigate evolution across this epoch. Here, we describe the first fossil barychelid spider (Araneae: Barychelidae) in the world and the second fossil mygalomorph spider from Australia. It is placed as a new genus and species (Megamonodontium mccluskyi gen. et sp. nov.). Megamonodontium resembles Monodontium Kulczyński, 1908, a genus that persists in rainforests through Singapore, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The new specimen is the second largest spider fossil in the world and is approximately five times larger than extant Monodontium. The fossil shows that this lineage once occupied mesic rainforest habitats in Australia but has since been replaced by other spiders.



    And of course the images


    Artist's reconstruction





    Last edited by rogue06; 09-30-2023, 11:33 AM.

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  • #2
    "The fossil measures just under 1 inch"

    Huge????
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Roy View Post
      "The fossil measures just under 1 inch"

      Huge????
      Relatively speaking. Five time larger than extant species but nothing like a 50s horror movie version.

      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

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