Scientists have discovered a new arachnid species which is being considered as the missing link in the evolution of spiders. These spider fossils were found preserved in amber found in Northern Myanmar. Four such arachnid fossils have been found. They look exactly like spiders – but have one major difference, a scorpion-like tail!
It is being considered that these are the species which came between the arachnids that lived in the dinosaur era and the modern day spiders. Four male fossils were found preserved in the amber. This newly discovered species of ancient spiders have now been named Chimerarachne yingi — or ‘chimaera spider’.
These spiders have fangs, male pedipalps which helped transfer sperm, four sets of legs, as well as spinnerets, which are used to spin webs. However, the most interesting detail about their anatomy is their tail. These spiders have a 3mm tail, which is longer than their 2.5mm bodies. These tails resemble the Attercopus species of arachnids, which is a creature that existed 200 Million to 300 Million years ago.
The aforementioned Attercopus was not technically a spider but had many resemblances, including hair on abdomen called spigots, which were involved in silk production. However, it did not have spinnerets. Professor Selden, who discovered Attercopus 30 years ago had then predicted that there are likely to be long-tailed arachnids which came after Attercopus and before the modern day spiders.
While it is too early to comment much, the early assumptions are that this long tail was used by these spiders as an antenna to sense the environment around them. This is similar to how other long tailed creatures such as the whipped scorpion used their tails. These fossils are 170 Million years old, which make it significantly younger compared. It is even possible that these creatures might be the first ‘true spiders’. The presence of spinnerets in these creatures truly classify them as spiders.