If you are afraid of spiders, this article will only make things worse. Discovering spider fossils is always exciting for scientists, as it is rare to discover them preserved properly. That is why researchers were happy to find not one, but 10 new spider fossils. And they might be scarier than you think.
The fossils were discovered in South Korea in a geological area known as the Jinju Formation. Jinju dates from the Mesozoic era, which explains while the spider fossils discovered there are so old. Until the latest discovery, only one spider was found there.
The fossils also have an interesting detail. Two of the spiders have eyes that still reflect light. This happens despite the fact that they died 110 million years ago. It is an exciting discovery, as it does not happen to often to find such a thing.
“Because these spiders were preserved in strange slivery flecks on dark rock, what was immediately obvious was their rather large eyes brightly marked with crescentic features,” said Paul Selden, geologist at The University of Kansas. “I realised this must have been the tapetum – that’s a reflective structure in an inverted eye where light comes in and is reverted back into retina cells.”
The eyes also helped spiders see during night-time, similar to how cats’ eyes work. This new discovery might be the first spider eye tapetum found so far.
“In spiders, the ones you see with really big eyes are jumping spiders, but their eyes are regular eyes – whereas wolf spiders at nighttime, you see their eyes reflected in light like cats.
So, night-hunting predators tend to use this different kind of eye. This was the first time a tapetum had been in found in fossil. “It’s nice to have exceptionally well-preserved features of internal anatomy like eye structure. It’s really not often you get something like that preserved in a fossil,” explained Selden.
Nora Reynolds is a major in biology and a minor in Biological Basis of Behavior, writing about science in general. She also likes to try new gadgets and sports about the AI new era.