It was found by a group of scientists in Australia. It is the 15 million year old spider fossil. It is recognized as the second largest fossil of this animal ever found. This remarkable find contributes to subsequent studies of spiders that existed in the Miocene epoch.
The Miocene Epoch was marked by dramatic climate changes and a dry landscape. This created perfect conditions for Australia’s arachnids. For mygalomorph spiders, it was an excellent opportunity. However, the scarcity of its fossils from this period leaves many questions unanswered.
The first fossil
During the discovery, researchers stumbled upon a colossal fossil of a new genus and species of arachnids. It dates back to the Miocene, approximately 11 to 16 million years ago. This formidable trapdoor spider is known as Megamonodontium mccluskyi. It’s an astonishing find that surpasses its modern counterparts by a factor of five. At a staggering 50 millimeters in size, it rivals today’s wolf spiders.
The name of the genus, Megamonodontium, pays tribute to his closest living relatives. They are the tiny brush-footed trapdoor spiders of the genus Monodontium. The specific name, mccluskyi, is an honor to Dr. Simon McClusky. This is the dedicated scientist who unearthed this extraordinary specimen in June 2020.
“Not only is it the largest fossilized arachnid found on the continent of Australia. “It is the first fossil of the Barychelidae family that has been found worldwide.” This was clarified by Dr. Robert Raven, an arachnologist at the Queensland Museum and lead author of the study.
This impressive fossil belongs to the family of brush-legged trapdoor spiders. That guy probably used an ambush hunting strategy, relying on its camouflaged burrow to catch unsuspecting prey. The unique lifestyle of these animals may explain the rarity of their fossils in the scientific record.
The 15-million-year-old spider fossil promises to fill critical gaps in our understanding of arachnid evolution. A detailed examination using electron microscopy gave us valuable information about the claws. Also about setae (hair-like structures) and the spider’s sensory adaptations. The study was published in the Zoological Magazine of the Linnean Society.