This creature is not a spider. Once again, this creature is not a spider:
Scientists say a 305 million-year-old fossil is the closest relative to “true spiders” ever discovered — but is not itself a spider.
Easily pre-dating the dinosaurs, the 1.5cm creature lived alongside the oldest known ancestors of modern spiders but its lineage is now extinct.
The specimen was dug up decades ago in France but never identified, because its front half was encased in rock.
Now, researchers have made a detailed reconstruction using CT scans.
Their findings are reported in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“This fossil is the most closely related thing we have to a spider that isn’t a spider,” said first author Russell Garwood from the University of Manchester.
The non-spider, Idmonarachne brasieri, definitely has spider-like legs and jaws, but it is utterly lacking in spinnerets, so — no web.
Still, we’re talking very, very close:
“The earliest known spider is actually from the same fossil deposit — and it definitely has spinnerets. So what we’re actually looking at is an extinct lineage that split off the spider line some time before 305 million years ago, and those two have evolved in parallel.”
Except, you know, for that whole “dying out” thing.