The World's Oldest Spider Has Died At 43

CREDIT CURTIN UNIVERSITY

CREDIT CURTIN UNIVERSITY

The recent death of the 43-year-old trapdoor spider, not only breaks the record for the world's oldest spider, but also demonstrates that long-term research is essential to understand how different species live in the Australian environment. However, the lifespan of a trapdoor spider had previously been set at a maximum of 20 years - so Number 16 might change how we research the wee beasties.

The previous record-holder for oldest spider was a 28-year-old Mexican tarantula documented by researchers. Although trapdoor spiders are found all around the world, the particular specimen was discovered in Australia during the first year of Barbara York Main's survey.

"Through Barbara's detailed research, we have been able to determine that the longevity of burrowing spiders is due to their life cycle, including how they live in uncleared bushland areas, their sedentary nature and their weak metabolism, "said Ms. Mason".

Co-author, Associate Professor Grant Wardell-Johnson explains how Number 16′s behavioural characteristics helped it thrive in the Australian outback.

Since its birth in 1974, the Number 16 spider was included in the population targeted for study.

The spider - known fondly as "Number 16" - had been studied by researchers since 1974, before her untimely death. The scientists found the spider dead during a long-term population study.

Trapdoor spiders are called such because they don't spin webs like many others.

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. Once the egg hatches, the spider is consumed by the larva from the inside out. Females like Number 16 reportedly live out most of their lives in the same burrow hole.

"[Wasps] are quite brutal in the way they prey on spiders", lead author Leanda Mason told As It Happens host Carol Off.

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