World’s oldest spiderweb discovered

This video from CBS in the USA is about the largest spiderweb in the world.

From Associated Press:

Spiderweb from age of dinosaurs

4:00AM Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

The tiny tangled threads of the world’s oldest spiderweb have been found encased in a prehistoric piece of amber, a British scientist said yesterday.

Oxford University paleobiologist Martin Brasier said the 140-million-year-old webbing provides evidence that arachnids had been ensnaring their prey in silky nets since the dinosaur age.

“You can match the details of the spider’s web with the spider’s web in my garden,” Dr Brasier said.

The web was found in a small piece of amber picked up by an amateur fossil-hunter on England’s south coast about two years ago, Dr Brasier said. A microscope revealed the existence of tiny threads about 1mm long amid bits of burned sap and vegetable matter.

While not as dramatic as a fully preserved net of spider silk, the minuscule strands show that spiders had been spinning circle-shaped webs well into prehistory, according to Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleobiologist.

“It’s not a striking, perfect web,” Dr Braddy said. “[But] this seems to confirm that spiders were building orb webs back in the early Cretaceous (the geological term for the period of time between 145.5 million and 65.5 million years ago when dinosaurs and small mammals shared the earth).”

Experts believe that webs were developed even earlier, but the delicate threads rarely leave any trace. Amber, or fossilised tree resin, can occasionally conserve bits of web – an earlier find in Lebanon was dated to 130 million years ago, according to Dr Brasier.

Spider evolution: here.

‘Drowned’ Spiders Come Back From the Dead: here.

Spider Mimics Ants to Scare off Predators: here.

Spider builds life-sized decoys: here.

Carboniferous spider relatives: here.

This piece of fabric measuring 3.4 metres by 1.2 metres was woven from gold-coloured silk drawn out of 1 million wild Madagascan golden orb spiders: here.

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