Friday 24 May 2019

Scientists 'miserable' as oldest spider (43) dies

Number 16 in happier times
Number 16 in happier times

Henry Bodkin

The world's oldest known spider has died at the age of 43, outliving its nearest rival by 15 years.

Affectionately known as "Number 16", the female trapdoor spider had been under observation in the Australian wild since its first moments in 1974.

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.

Previously the oldest known spider was a tarantula in Mexico, which died at the age of 28.

The research is the life's work of Barbara York Main, now 88, who first set eyes on Number 16 shortly after its birth.

"To our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider's behaviour," said Leanda Mason, a student of Professor Main's and the study's lead author.

The trapdoor species is poisonous but Ms Mason said of Number 16's passing: "We're really miserable about it.

"We were hoping she could have made it to 50 years old." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

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