Researchers discover world's oldest spider in Australia

Trapdoor spider
Trapdoor spider Guy Tansley/ YouTube grab

A group of Australian scientists have claimed that they have discovered the oldest trapdoor spider in the world but the spider, which was 43-year-old, died recently during a long-term population study in Western Australia's Central Wheatbelt.

The lead author of this study Leanda Mason, who is also a PhD student from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University, has claimed that it was the oldest spider recorded ever. The particular spider, which is recognized as the Giaus Villosus trapdoor matriarch, helped the research team to understand the behaviour of trapdoor spiders and how the creatures interact with each other.

The death of the trapdoor matriarch has snatched the record of world's oldest spider from its previous rival, a 28-year-old Mexican tarantula.

The study, which was published in the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal, also showed that how such long-term studies are important to understand the growth of these species in the Australian environment.

As per the Curtin University reports, Mason said that this research project was first initiated in 1974, by Barbara York Main, who monitored the long-term spider population for over 42 years in Western Australia.

"Through Barbara's detailed research, we were able to determine that the extended lifespan of the trapdoor spider is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bush land, their sedentary nature and low metabolisms," she further added.

Mason and other researchers are continuing their research on the life and habitat of world's oldest spider. The co-author of this study Grant Wardell-Johnson from the Centre for Mine Site Restoration (CMSR), has explained that through this ongoing research process they hope to identify how spider's behavioural characteristics help them to survive.

He said, "These spiders exemplify an approach to life in ancient landscapes, and through our ongoing research we will be able to determine how the future stresses of climate change and deforestation will potentially impact the species."

Facts about Trapdoor Spiders:

  • It can be around 2.5 centimetres long on average.
  • It lives underground for most of its life. In countries like Japan, Africa, South America and North America and many other warm places they can be found.
  • They do not have web-like other spiders do. It has a trapdoor on top of a burrow, which is around 30 centimetres deep and 5 centimetres across.
  • Their diet includes all types of insects even frogs, baby birds, baby snakes, mice and small fish.
  • Female trapdoor spiders lay eggs several months after mating and protect them inside the burrow.
  • The bite of the trapdoor spider is of low risk (non-toxic) to humans.
  • They are often kept as exotic pets but these spiders are very aggressive and should only be kept by experienced people.