Amazing 49 million year old spider gets a 3D portrait

An extremely old spider has showed its face for the first time in almost 50 million years; buried in a large chunk of amber, this Huntsman spider has descendants which live in the tropics and Southern Europe today. They can grow up to 30 centimeters, but they’re not aggressive and not poisonous for humans, despite the fact that they deliver quite a bite.

This fossil, housed in the Berlin natural history musem is much smaller, and only through a technique called X-ray computed tomography were researchers able to make this 3D portrait of it.

“The research is particularly exciting because our results show that this method works and that other scientifically important specimens in historical pieces of darkened amber can be investigated and compared to their living relatives in the same way,” study researcher David Penney of the University of Manchester said in a statement.

Indeed, the obtained images are spectacular, revealing fangs, eyes and “pedipalps,” or the feelers on the spider’s face. They even made a video, showing the results of the procedure. I highly recommend watching it, that is, if you’re not afraid of going through the fangs of a 49 million year old spider.

Andrei’s background is in geophysics, and he published his first scientific paper when he was still an undergrad; now, his main focus is on how geology and geophysics can be applied to understand and protect the environment. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science – and the results are what you see today.

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