Just how many walking sticks would an elderly spider require?
Researchers in Australia monitored what is most likely the world's oldest spider on record, who died at age 43, outstripping the previous record-holder, a 28-year-old tarantula.
The lead researcher, Leanda Mason, said of the spider in question, "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,” according to a press release.
A sedentary creature, the female Gaius villosus trapdoor spider builds itself a tunnel in the ground and stays there, seldom wandering too far from its hidey-hole. Sounds pretty ideal to be honest.
Some people online were confused as to how the researchers knew the spider's age.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IT WAS THE OLDEST SPIDER, HAVE YOU ASKED ALL THE OTHERS THEIR AGE? https://t.co/b5ls7v4p31
— Christine Best (@tinajaneb33) April 28, 2018
You just have to look it up on the web.
— Ryan Evans (@DoNothing69) April 30, 2018
Spider census. Every spider took it. Although apparently a few of them lied about their age to get into bars, allegedly.
— matthew marsden (@matthewdmarsden) April 29, 2018
Named "Number 16" (affectionate pet-names were notably absent from the paper) the female trapdoor spider was first documented as a spiderling in 1974 by a study initiated by Barbara York Main.
The study monitored individuals using tagged pegs put next to their burrows. 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.
Number 16 probably didn't die of natural causes. On Oct. 31, 2016, the researchers found that her burrow had been pierced by a parasitic wasp. Her burrow fell into disrepair thereafter, meaning that poor Number 16 was probably eaten from the inside out by a spider wasp larva.
What a way to go.