If you have a phobia of spiders, you probably take some (very small) comfort in the fact most don’t live beyond the three-year mark. Unless, of course, it’s a trapdoor called “Number 16”, living in WA’s North Bungulla Reserve, in which case the darn thing made it to 43. Yes, forty-three.
The spider, of the Giaus Villosus variety, was part of a “long-term population study”, according to a press release from Curtin University.
Started all the way back in 1974 by Australia’s own “Lady of Spiders”, Barbara York Main, the resulting research can be found in a new paper, published in the journal Pacific Conservation Biology.
What might one learn from studying a spider well into its twilight years? The paper’s lead author, Leanda Mason, explains:
“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 … Through Barbara’s detailed research, we were able to determine that the extensive life span of the trapdoor spider is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bushland, their sedentary nature and low metabolisms.”
I know a lot of you won’t be shedding many tears for Australia’s most elderly (and now deceased) arachnid, but we can all agree nature is a constant source of amazement — even if it’s waving one of its eight legs at you, screaming for you to get of its lawn.