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A spider with a tail was an actual animal that once lived

07 February 2018, 01:31 | Hattie Nash

The dorsal view of entire Chimerarachne yingi specimen. Note the long tail-like appendage. Credit University of Kansas

The dorsal view of entire Chimerarachne yingi specimen. Note the long tail-like appendage. Credit University of Kansas

If that's making your skin crawl, you can probably take solace in the fact that the arachnid, dubbed Chimerarachne, lived 100 million years ago, and its remains were found trapped in amber in Myanmar.

If more specimens emerge, Selden and others hope to find out more about the spider's anatomy, behavior and whether it has a female counterpart.

The spider lived on the islands of Myanmar - formerly Burma - during the mid-Cretaceous when Tyrannosaurus Rex ruled the planet.

An worldwide team involving University of Kansas paleontologist Paul Selden studied the mid-Cretaceous critter, which is trapped in a piece of amber from Myanmar.

If you already thought spiders were terrifying to look at, wait till you hear about a newly-discovered species of arachnid that had a long tail (as well as eight legs). But experts disagree about how these fossils relate to modern-day spiders, because there's something odd about their crumpled corpses: all four of them have tails.

Researchers have previously found creatures from between roughly 380 million and 290 million years ago that looked like tailed spiders but did not have spinnerets, so the new find adds a piece to the puzzle of the spider's evolutionary lineage.

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Another view of the holotype of C. yingi as it was preserved in amber for 100 million years...coincidentally the same number of nightmares today's announcement will foster. But it is one of modern spiders' closest cousins, and it presents some intriguing hints at how they evolved. These specimens became available previous year to Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, he added. Today, scientists announced they belong to an entirely new species. No other living spider has a tail, although some relatives of spiders, the vinegaroons, do have an anal flagellum.

The finding is described in a paper appearing in Nature Ecology & Evolution by an worldwide team including Paul Selden of the Paleontological Institute and Department of Geology at the University of Kansas and colleagues from China, Germany, Virginia and the United Kingdom. The ancient arachnids are usually described as "chimeras" which is the name of a hybrid beast popular in Greek mythology. Selden says the spider's remote habitat allows for the possibility that tailed descendants may still be alive in Myanmar's backcountry today.

"Chimerarachne could be considered as a spider". An global team of researchers from the United States, China, Germany, and the United Kingdom announced the discovery today (February 5) in two papers in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The fossils are now so well preserved that, one can easily observe the head, fangs, male pedipalps, their legs and spinner rest at their back. Spiders use silk for a variety of reasons, including augmenting their living space and protecting their eggs. Some argue that spinnerets were the key innovation that allowed spiders to become so successful; there are almost 50,000 known spider species alive today.

The first Uraraneida fossil was discovered in NY state in the USA in 1987 and was initially misidentified as a spider.



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