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Giant trapdoor spider fossil found in Australia from 16 million years | Tech News

Trapdoor spider terrorised Australia?s forests 15 million years ago. For the first time, fossilised remains of a brush-footed trapdoor spider have been found. The hairy monstrosity which lived 11?16 million years ago in Australia is five times larger than its modern relatives. Megamonodontium mccluskyi is described in a paper published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

The spider was discovered in a grassland region known as McGraths Flat, a fossil site located in central New South Wales (Picture: Michael Frese)

Not surprisingly, Australia was home to giant spiders, even in prehistoric times.

Scientists have recently identified the fossil of a giant trapdoor spider in Australia.

Last year, researchers unearthed fossils of a ‘rich and abundant’ rainforest from millions of years ago, with thousands of specimens including plants, trapdoor spiders, giant cicadas and wasps.

Now, scientists have studied the spider fossil and published their notes in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society journal.

The spider was discovered in a grassland region known as McGraths Flat, a fossil site in central New South Wales.

The site contains fossils of various animals and plants that lived in Miocene Australia approximately 11 to 16 million years ago.

This was a time when Australia was covered in rainforests, and McGraths Flat provides a unique window into this lost world.

Trapdoor spider terrorised Australia?s forests 15 million years ago. For the first time, fossilised remains of a brush-footed trapdoor spider have been found. The hairy monstrosity which lived 11?16 million years ago in Australia is five times larger than its modern relatives. Megamonodontium mccluskyi is described in a paper published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Scientists have recently identified the fossil of a giant trapdoor spider in Australia (Picture: Michael Frese)

Researchers have officially named the spider fossil ‘Megamonodontium mccluskyi’ and it’s special as it’s only the fourth spider fossil ever to be found in Australia.

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The fossil is also the first in the world of a spider belonging to the trapdoor spider family, Barychelidae.

‘Only four spider fossils have ever been found throughout the whole continent, which has made it difficult for scientists to understand their evolutionary history. That is why this discovery is so significant, it reveals new information about the extinction of spiders and fills a gap in our understanding of the past,’ palaeontologist Matthew McCurry told ScienceAlert.

‘The closest living relative of this fossil now lives in wet forests in Singapore through to Papua New Guinea. This suggests that the group once occupied similar environments in mainland Australia but have subsequently gone extinct as Australia became more arid.’

Monodontium are usually pretty small, but it’s still the second-largest spider fossil ever found.

Measuring 23.31 millimetres, with its legs spread, it could comfortably fit into the palm of your hand.

The discovery of the giant trapdoor spider fossil also has implications for the understanding of the past climate of Australia.

The fact that the fossil was found in a layer of rainforest sediment suggests that the region was once much wetter than it is today. This information could help scientists to better understand the impact of climate change on the country’s unique flora and fauna.


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