Creepy New Fossil Shows the Dawn of Spiders
The 305-million-year-old arachnid acts as a bridge between known proto-spiders and today's elegant weavers.
A beautifully preserved fossil from France has given paleontologists a look at an animal that is almost, but not quite, the earliest known spider.
The eight-legged creature lived 305 million years ago and has been named Idmonarachne brasieri, a reference to Idmon, the father of the skilled weaver Arachne in Greek mythology. Amateur fossil hunter Daniel Sotty discovered it in the ancient rock of Montceau-les-Mines in eastern France, and it was later placed in the collections of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.
“When I first saw it, I was unsure what kind of arachnid it was,” says University of Manchester paleontologist Russell Garwood. Only the abdomen was visible in the sample, but already Garwood could see hints of a relationship with arachnids. Later, when his team created high-resolution CT scans, they found far more preserved in the Carboniferous-age stone.
“The legs and entire front half