43-YEAR-OLD SPIDER DIES, LEAVING SAD RESEARCHERS
People can be nostalgic for just about anything. But even I had some doubts about this one. But it’s real! The spider that many believe to have been the world’s oldest just died. She was a Giaus Villosus. Most people know this species as a trapdoor spider. This 43-year-old female spider was part of a study in Western Australia. It was a long-term study of a spider population in the wild. But this Charlottes Web real life story does have some miracle in it. Most trapdoor spiders only live to about 20 years of age. This lady spider with the nickname of Number 16 lived 43 years, more than twice the normal span. It would be like your great-great-great-great-great aunt still being alive when you get out of college.
TRAPDOOR SPIDER WAS LIKE A REAL LIFE CHARLOTTES WEB STORY
The statement announcing the spider’s death included some quotes from Leanda Mason. Mason is a doctoral student at the School of Molecular and Life Sciences, which is part of Australia’s Curtin University. Mason said, “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. But Mason isn’t just another involved doctoral student. She was also the lead author on spider research, published in the Pacific Conservation Biology. Mason sounds the type who loves her professional research and field.
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MOST SPIDERS JUST LIVE A YEAR, TWO AT MOST
Many common spiders don’t live anywhere near as long as old Number 16. Wolf spiders don’t even see the age of one year. The brown recluse spider (yes, it’s common and deadly) gets to about 4 years old. The southern black widow just about makes it to the terrible two’s. Larger arachnids tend to live a bit longer. Many tarantulas and the goliath birdeater (yes, look it up, it eats birds) can live as long as a quarter century. But right now, the next oldest spider we know of is a tarantula in Mexico that’s only 28. But old Number 16 lived so long she helped scientists learn more about the impacts of climate change and deforestation impact spider populations. Her real life story was important to research, and to the researchers.
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RESEARCHERS MISERABLE TO LOSE GERIATRIC TRAPDOOR SPIDER
Yet they wanted more time with her. According to Mason, “We’re really miserable about it. We were hoping she could have made it to 50 years old.” But this 43-year-old Charlotte’s Web spider will live on in memory.