The world's oldest recorded spider has died aged 43

The world’s oldest spider which lived in WA has died

Number 16, the world's oldest known spider, has died at the ripe old age of 43 after being monitored for years during a long-term population study in Perth, Australia.

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The population study was started in 1974 by Barbara York Main and was created to help scientists learn about how spiders can survive in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia for so long.

Number 16 built her burrow in the North Bungulla Reserve in southwestern Australia, when she was young.

Site highlights each day to your inbox. The study The longest-lived spider: mygalomorphs dig deep, and persevere can be read in its entirety here. York Main, the researcher who launched the study, is now 88 years old.




The spider, named Number 16, was part of long-term research project that led to the fascinating discoveries on the lifespan of trapdoor spiders. This arachnid of the species Gaius villosus has far exceeded the previous record that was held by a Mexican tarantula 28 years, according to the study published by the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal on April 19, 2018.

The trapdoor queen had been under observation while living her best life in the wild since her birth in 1974. Female trapdoor spiders stay in and around the same burrow virtually all their lives, so researchers marked her burrow and went back to check on it regularly.

Professor Main's research has shown that the male trapdoor spider leaves his burrow at maturity, around seven to nine years old, to wander in search of a mate, around which he dies. Trapdoor spiders never re-use the disused burrow of another spider, so the researchers can be fairly confident that they were monitoring the same spider for 43 years. The specimen was female and, like many of her cohorts, was very large. But to the dismay of anyone with arachnophobia, climate change may have the opposite effect on other species, leading to more frequent breeding, larger body size and quicker spider sprints.

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