Missing Link Spider Is Silkless And Predates Humans By 300 Million Years
A 305-million-year-old "almost" spider, which scientists have dubbed Idmonarachne brasieri, has been found in a piece of ironstone in France, MIC reports. The use of CT scanning has led to similar discoveries of missing-link fossils embedded in rock.
The ironstone containing the fossil, found in Montceau-les-Mines France, was dug up decades ago but could only recently be examined with X-ray scans. The scans suggest the creature existed 300 million years before the evolution of humans, according to Independent.
University of Manchester's Russell Garwood, part of the research team that published their findings in The Royal Society, utilizes X-rays to understand early ecosystems and terrestrial animals. The paleontologist claimed the creature "occupies a key position in the evolution of spiders."
Brasieri had mouth parts and legs identical to modern spiders, but it lacked silk producing organs called spinnerets. The abdomen of the organism appeared to be segmented, while most modern spider abdomens are fused, Scientific American reports.
Garwood hopes analysis of brasieri's traits will increase understanding of arachnid evolution. He said, "They're the most diverse group of living organisms after insects. They're really, really successful, but we have a very limited understanding of how they are related to each other."
The "almost" spider can be added to an avalanche of newly discovered species.
This year, an unearthed reptile, encased in rock from the mid-Cretaceous period, was found to be 99 million years old and a crucial key to a lost ecosystem. In 2015, Asia's Himalayan Mountains revealed over 200 unknown species of animals and plants including "a frog with blue eyes and a fish that can walk and live on land for up to four days," per MIC.
Other Himalayan animals included a fanged "Dracula fish" and noseless monkey.
Missing links teach us about the factors involved in extinction and the importance of biodiversity. Unfortunately, the Earth is experiencing the kind of mass extinction that claimed the lives of many of these species.
Ecosystems are dying at an alarming and unprecedented rate, and scientists like Russell Garwood would like to prevent more animals from becoming part of this predicament.
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