World’s oldest spider’s web found in Spain

June 26, 2006
By: ThinkSpain

The oldest spider’s web in the world has been found in Eastern Spain, preserved by chance in a piece of amber. This is the oldest record of an actual web with prey items in it.

The 110 million year old web was found during an archaeological dig at Eschcha, Teruel.

Containing 26 strands, the longest of which is 5.7 mm long, the orb (round) web contains a wasp leg, a mite, a fly and a beetle; droplets of web glue are visible. The spider appears to have started to eat the wasp, reports said.

It indicates that 'spiders have been fishing insects from the air for a very long time,' invertebrate zoology expert David Grimaldi said. It also shows that orb webs evolved much earlier than had been believed.

Genetic reserach suggests that web-making arachnids existed as early as 136 million years ago.

The Spanish discovery was published by the magazine Science on Friday.

Another team found one of the spiders that could have woven the web in another piece of amber in Spain. David Penney of the University of Manchester in Britain and Vicente Ortuno of the Universidad de Alcalo in Madrid date the amber to 115 million years ago.

The half inch (2 mm) long spider, which they name Mesozygiella dunlopi, looks very modern, they report in the journal Biology Letters.