43-Year-Old Spider, Believed To Be The World's Oldest, Dies In Western Australia

Image: Curtin University

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.

[Curtin University, via ABC]

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