X-ray spider

fossil spider

A 53-million-year-old spider has been revealed in exquisite detail by scientists from the UK and Belgium. The spider Cenotextricella simoni is about 1mm in length (see scale-bar). The scientists say that it would have inhabited a wooded area and lived in a warm climate. Internal details can be seen in the view at bottom-right.

The ancient creepy-crawly had been trapped in amber and preserved in a lowland area around Paris, France. The scientists reconstructed the creature’s original appearance using an X-ray-based medical imaging technique. The pictures, published in the journal Zootaxa, “digitally dissect” the tiny spider to expose amazing details such as the preservation of internal organs.

“This is definitely the way forward for the study of amber fossils,” said David Penney, from Manchester University and lead author on the study.

“Amber provides a unique window into past forest ecosystems. It retains an incredible amount of information, not just about the spiders themselves, but also about the environment in which they lived.”

This is the first time that the medical imaging technique, known as Very High Resolution X-Ray Computed Tomography, has been used to investigate a fossil in amber – and Dr Penney said it had the potential to “revolutionise” the way fossils were studied.

2 gedachten over “X-ray spider

  1. SW

    Fascinating images. A very well reproduced image of a male, if current arachnological physiology is applicable, spider. Perhaps DNA will also be available from such specimines sometime in the near future so we can study them further.

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