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Scientists Discover Mummified 99-Million-Year-Old Spider With Unusual Horns

Jul 18, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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Scientists came across two mummified spiders in Burmese amber, but that's not even the most surprising discovery yet.

Upon studying the spiders, the scientists found out that they are unlike any present spiders we have here today.

The spiders, dubbed Electroblemma bifida and both estimated to be 99 million years old, have long projections extending from their upper shells. They also have horned fangs.

"The genus is distinguished by its enormous dorsal carapace projection and highly modified chelicerae. The new genus is referred to the tribe Tetrablemmini within the subfamily Tetrablemminae. The presence of a relatively derived Tetrablemmid on the south-east Eurasian continent during the Late Cretaceous suggests that the family was already well diversified in tropical rainforests at this time," said the study published in journal Cretaceous Research.

Study lead author Paul Selden, a professor of invertebrate paleontology at the University of Kansas, told Live Science that the feature of the spider is unique even for their own kind.

"The new fossil is an adult male and takes these horns to an extreme," Selden said in an e-mail interview.The size of the feature is unlike the size which is found in the same family.

Because the projection expands at the end, the researchers believe it would have held the spider's eyes.

"Nevertheless, the new species can be firmly placed within the modern family and is similar to species living in Southeast Asia and China today," Selden added.

In 2007, the family Tetrablemmidae has been recorded in China for the first time. Researchers Yanfeng Tong and Shuquiang Li described them as cave-dwelling armored spiders. They are called armored spiders because of the complicated patterns of their abdominal scuta.

The natural history of Tetrablemmidae is not widely researched, but most live in litter, crevice or mosses in tropical countries.

Attempts to discover natural groups within Tetrablemmidae have been rare. According to the National Geographic, the specimens are currently housed at Capital Normal University in Beijing, but will eventually be deposited in the Three Gorges Entomological Museum in Chongqing, China.

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