Female Spiders’ Maternal Instincts Captured in 99-Million-Year-Old Amber

Four adult spiders encased in amber were found in the northern part of Myanmar that are estimated to be around 99 million years old. They belong to the extinct family of lagonomegopids, and show us how spider behavior has changed and how it stays the same. For example, these spiders did not build webs, but they did spin silk. In behavior that doesn't change, these four chunks of amber are the oldest known examples of a maternal instinct in spiders. One shows a spider, frozen in time, clutching her egg sac.

The remaining three amber specimens showed already hatched spiderlings near fragments of their mother's legs. Researchers counted a total of 24, 26, and 34 hatched babies in the each. The amber also had pieces of wood wrapped with silk strands, suggesting that these pieces were preserved remnants of a spider nest. Together, the findings indicate that the spider babies stayed nearby and were guarded by their mothers. As their nest flooded with resin, the mother chose to stay and protect her spiderlings, reports New Scientist.

Oh great, now I'm going to have a Charlotte's Web moment. Read about the discovery at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Xiangbo Guo)

#spider #fossil #amber

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