Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Early fossil discovery in remote Hukawng Valley

Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:03 Mizzima News

An article published in October by researchers at an US university shows a 100-million-year-old fossil of a spider about to attack a wasp in the Hukawng Valley of Burma.

A 100-million-year-old fossil shows a spider about to attack a wasp. Researchers say it's the first of its kind. Photo: Oregon State University

University released photographs of a 100-million-year-old chunk of amber containing a prehistoric spider about to devour a wasp caught in its web.

It is the first-ever fossilized record of a spider about to attack its prey, researchers said in a statement.

“This juvenile spider was going to make a meal out of a tiny parasitic wasp, but never quite got to it,” George Poinar Jr., an Oregon State zoology professor and co-author of a paper about the fossil, said in the statement.

“The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them.”

Researchers estimated the spider and wasp were from the Early Cretaceous period, between 97 and 110 million years ago.

In a paper published in the journal Historical Biology, Poinar and co-author Ron Buckley said that the amber also trapped the body of second male spider, providing early evidence that spiders were social insects.

About 15 strands of spider silk were also discovered in the amber, researchers said.

Both the spider and wasp species are extinct.

But the researchers said the wasp was a distant cousin of a species that today feeds on spider eggs, suggesting that the attack was “payback.”

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