This image shows an extinct species of spider just as it was pouncing on an extinct species of wasp before they were both fossilized in amber. (Photo : Oregon State University)
Imagine being fossilized just as you were taking a bite into your meal - your image, preserved in amber, showcasing a poignant moment of "what would never be." This is exactly what scientists found when they discovered a 100-million-year-old fossilized snapshot of a prehistoric spider attacking its prey in its web. The last supper, but with eight legs.
The fossil is the first and only one ever discovered showing a spider attacking its prey, and is dated back to around 97-100 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
"This juvenile spider was going to make a meal out of a tiny parasitic wasp, but never quite got to it," said George Poinar Jr., a professor emeritus of zoology at Oregon State University and world expert on insects trapped in amber.
"This was a male wasp that suddenly found itself trapped in a spider web. This was the wasp's worst nightmare, and it never ended. The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them."
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Don't feel too much sympathy for the wasp, however, since that type of wasp was known to parasitize spider eggs.
The fossil also showed evidence of another male spider in the web, giving scientists more insight into spiders' social behaviors. While most spiders are solitary and can even be cannibalistic, this piece of fossilized amber is the oldest piece of evidence that some spiders do co-exist, even if rarely.
Spiders have been known to exist up to 200 million years ago, but the oldest piece of fossilized evidence for a spider web is 130-million years old.