Scientists have just discovered a tiny arachnid frozen in amber. It looks exactly like a spider but with one major difference: a whip-like tail.
The creature has been dated back to 100 million years ago, and according to Paul Selden, an arachnid expert from the University of Kansas, the fossil may be “the missing link from older animals and modern spiders.”
He elaborated: “We don’t know much about the life of this tiny arachnid, but it likely lived in the bark of the resin producing trees.”
Selden even said that the newly-named Chimerarachne yingi, or ‘chimaera spider’, may even pre-date the dinosaurs.
What is clearly different and deeply intriguing about this species, is that while ancient arachnids had tails, they did not have spinnerets. Modern spiders have ditched the tail altogether, in favor of spinnerets.
But this demon of a spider had both.
The tail is a disturbing feature of creatures such as Attercopus which lived 200-300 million years ago. Although, the Attercopus was not a spider.
Scientists are currently studying the spider’s tail, pondering whether its use was similar to that of an antennae.
According to Professor Diying Huang from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology in China, the spider probably didn’t spin webs in the way we see today.
“More likely [it secreted] silk on the ground for an early warning function like some recent relatives,” including the South-East Asian Liphistiidae spider.
Robert Raven, a researcher at the Queensland Museum, added: “The crazy thing is that the most primitive spiders still live on the planet, not far from where these things were found in South-East Asia.”
There you have it folks, the gates of hell have been opened. This part-spider, part-scorpion, part-demon may well still be living among us.