The world’s oldest recorded spider has died aged 43

The world’s oldest spider. Image: Curtin University

A trapdoor spider captured in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt in the 1970s, and believed to be the world’s oldest recorded spider, has died aged 43.

Research, published in the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal, suggests the Giaus Villosus trapdoor matriarch outlived the previous record holder, a 28-year-old tarantula found in Mexico.

“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,” says Leanda Mason, lead author and a PhD student at the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Perth’s Curtin University.

The research project was first initiated by Barbara York Main in 1974, now aged 88, who monitored the long-term spider population for more than four decades years in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.

“Through Barbara’s detailed research, we were able to determine that the extensive 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,” says Mason.

The spider was monitored for the past 44 years in the North Bungullra Reserve in the Central Wheatbelt.

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