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Scientists 'miserable' after oldest living 43-year-old spider dies

01 May 2018
Scientists 'miserable' after oldest living 43-year-old spider dies

The female Giaus Villosus, or trapdoor spider, was born in 1974 and has been under scientific observation its whole life. The spider didn't die of old age, however, but was killed by a wasp sting, researchers said Monday. Although trapdoor spiders are found all around the world, the particular specimen was discovered in Australia during the first year of Barbara York Main's survey. At the time of its death, the spider was 43 years old.

"To our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider's behavior and population dynamics", said Leanda Mason, the lead author of the study that documented No. 16's life. Females like Number 16 reportedly live out most of their lives in the same burrow hole. Trapdoor spiders are often mistaking for funnel web spiders.

Trapdoor spiders traditionally have a life span between five to 20 years.

The scientists informed that these trapdoor spiders build burrows of about 30-centimeter deep with a cork-like trapdoor made of soil and vegetation, and sit inside them inactive with low metabolism. It typically takes seven to nine years for a male trapdoor spider to mature and to leave the burrow in search of a mate, after which it dies.

Still, the record was considered Australian cave spiders, that was nearing its end to 40 years, and tarantulas living to 28 years. The study also gave a better understanding of how the future stresses of climate change and deforestation could impact the species.

The arachnid is believed to have survived for so long by sticking to one protected burrow its entire life and expending the minimum of energy. They are not considered a major threat to humans.