World’s ‘Oldest’ Spider Discovered in Australian Outback

Australian researchers have discovered what is thought to be the world’s oldest recorded spider, unlocking key information about the mysterious eight-legged creature.

The research, published in the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal, suggests the 43-year-old Giaus Villosus trapdoor matriarch, who recently died during a long-term population study, had outlived the previous world record holder, a 28-year old tarantula found in Mexico.

"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 dynamics," Ms Mason said. (Credit: Curtin University)

‘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,’ Ms. Mason said. (Credit: Curtin University)

Lead author Ph.D. student Leanda Mason from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University said the ongoing research has led to new discoveries about the longevity of the trapdoor spider:

The team at Curtin University continued Barbara’s research, now aged 88, and were able to gather information regarding the spider’s age, cause of death, and a better understanding of its life history.

Fig. 2. (a) Gauis villosus female, (b) a typical G. villosus burrow and (c) burrow of deceased #16 with burrow lid removed showing piercing by parasitic wasp. Photographs: Leanda Denise Mason. (Image: via Pacific Conservation Biology Journal )

Fig. 2. (a) Gauis villosus female, (b) a typical G. villosus burrow, and (c) burrow of deceased #16 with burrow lid removed showing piercing by parasitic wasp. Photographs: Leanda Denise Mason. (Image: via Pacific Conservation Biology Journal )

Co-author, Associate Professor Grant Wardell-Johnson from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences and the Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre for Mine Site Restoration (CMSR), explained how the spider’s behavioral characteristics contributed to its survival in the Australian outback:

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.

Provided by: Curtin University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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