World's oldest spider discovered in Australia

World's oldest spider discovered in Australia

The trapdoor tarantula matriarch. Curtin university photo.

Scientists have discovered what may be the world's oldest recorded spider - a 43-year-old arachnid in Australia.

The Giaus Villosus trapdoor matriarch, which recently died during a long-term population study, had outlived the previous world record holder, a 28-year old tarantula found in Mexico.

The ongoing research has led to new discoveries about the longevity of the trapdoor spider, researchers 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 behaviour and population dynamics," said Leanda Mason, PhD student at Curtin University in Australia.

"The research project was first initiated by Barbara York Main in 1974, who monitored the long-term spider population for over 42 years in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia," Mason said.

"Through Barbara's detailed research, we were able to determine that the extended life span of the trapdoor spider is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bushland, their sedentary nature and low metabolisms," she said.

Researchers were able to gather information regarding the spider's age, the cause of death, and a better understanding of its life history.

"These spiders exemplify an approach to life in ancient landscapes, and through our ongoing research we will be able to determine how the future stresses of climate change and deforestation will potentially impact the species," said Grant Wardell-Johnson, associate professor at Curtin University.

The recent death of the 43-year-old trapdoor spider, not only breaks the record for the world's oldest spider but also demonstrates that long-term research is essential to understand how different species live in the Australian environment. 

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