Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Spider-like creature with a tail found preserved in 100 million year old amber

Finding gives palaeontologists insight into evolutionary history of arachnids

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent 

A spider-like creature with a tail has been discovered trapped in amber from Myanmar.

The arachnid – a relative of modern spiders and scorpions – shares many similarities with modern spiders including fangs and spinnerets, which are appendages used to spin silk.

Unusually, this 100 million year-old creature also has a long, tail-like structure known as a flagellum on its rear end.

“Any sort of flagelliform appendage tends to be like an antenna,” said Dr Paul Selden, a palaeontologist at the University of Kansas and one of the authors of the paper describing the creature.

“It’s for sensing the environment. Animals that have a long whippy tail tend to have it for sensory purposes.”

The discovery, described in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, has been named Chimerarachne yingi after the chimera of Greek mythology - a monster made up of different animal body parts.

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