back to article Fossil reveals spider in mid-strike

A hundred million years ago, an amber flow spoiled a spider’s day: it had waited, possibly for hours, to ambush a wasp in its web, and just as it decided to strike, spider, wasp and web were all trapped forever. The good news for us is that it’s turned up at a dig in Myanmar's Hukawng Valley, and here's what it looks like: …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. jake Silver badge

    Nice find!

    Things like this always make the fossil/mineral collector in me smile :-)

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Nice find!

      Just thought I'd counter the unnecessary down vote you received.

      Some people on here seem to be inexplicably negative about perfectly innocuous comments.

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Nice find!

      I own a tiny piece of amber with a little tiny fly in it. I used to have the details of the exact dates, etc. but can't find them now.

      I find it wonderful, even if it's nowhere near as magnificent as this one. I actually kept my QX3 just so that I could look at the insect (which is very near an internal crack / impurity in the amber so is difficult to spot from some angles).

      It always makes me wonder just how they get caught in it - I mean, did it drop from the tree onto their heads (surely that would squish them slightly), did it ooze around them (and then you'd have expected the spider to let go or be seen to be moving away), or what?

      My tiny fly, hell, it could have been dead before it even ended up in there - it's hard to tell. But this one makes amber take on a whole new menace for insects. Future sci-fi plot anyone?

      1. Jedit Silver badge

        "It always makes me wonder just how they get caught in it"

        I blame Walter Bishop.

        (Beer icon, because Fosters always claimed it was "the amber nectar".)

      2. Vulch

        Re: Nice find!

        > It always makes me wonder just how they get caught in it

        It starts out as pine sap which is fairly runny but very sticky, it's basically varnish. The initial impact wouldn't be much worse than getting hit by a large rain drop, but it builds up as the drips keep coming.

        Beer icon as it used to get tested by a chap in leather trousers sitting on a wooden bench with a puddle of beer on it. If he stuck to the bench when he tried to stand up it was acceptable beer...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Nice find!

        "But this one makes amber take on a whole new menace for insects"

        Never mind insects - maybe the Ruskies could use it to help out with the problem of keeping Lenin in good shape. Pour a few gallons of tree resin round him, and let it set, and he'd be good for the next hundred million years, a bit like Plastikraft, but more organic.

        Anyone else deserving of a dip?

        1. Euripides Pants

          Re: Nice find!

          Wolfman Jack

  2. Alan W. Rateliff, II


    "The spider is an orb weaver, Poinar said; relatives still exist today, although the kind in the amber is extinct."

    It's extinct. Must have been global warming or anthropogenic climate change. *tsk*

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Extinction

      Yep, those pesky cavemen in their V8 sportscars!

      Could've been wearing a mammoth wool fleece on a cold morning like today if it wasn't for them!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Extinction

        Tell that to the Tasmanian natives, who survived the separation of Australia as the planet warmed approx 10,000 years ago, whilst living at one with nature, but were wiped out by European man approx 200 years ago.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Extinction

          "whilst living at one with nature, but were wiped out by European man"

          It wasn't me, so who would you like to feel guilty in response to the touching little vignette you've crafted there?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    100 million years

    Gee that spider must really be hungry by now!

  4. Kevin Johnston

    meal out of reach? that's where they got the acorn idea from in the Ice Age films

    1. Thomas 4

      Re: meal out of reach?

      Just....a little....closer.....

  5. JDX Gold badge

    In the bottom right, is that the hairy leg of a much bigger spider?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He missed his vocation

    "The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them"

    should have gone for a career in script writing for tv commercials.

    Actually, the wasp's looking the other way, hence "trembling in anticipation of sealing fate, as the spider pounced, and the resin gushed in to entomb them both, once and for all"

    1. Severen

      Re: He missed his vocation

      I'm not the only one who has the music from the old Castrol GTX advert in his head, am I? :-)

    2. Tom 7

      Re: He missed his vocation

      But resin doesn't gush, it tends to do a rolling ooze. I have a feeling this stuff probably swept up one of them and then the other so they were close together in the amber by accident.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Tom 7 (was: Re: He missed his vocation)

        "But resin doesn't gush, it tends to do a rolling ooze."

        You've never hit a 25+ gallon sap pocket in a big pine with a chainsaw, have you? I have, twice. It's about 90% water when it comes out. If you can hose off in a hurry, it's not all that bad on a personal level ... but the clothes/gear you were wearing are toast. Took the better part of a day to clean the saw, both times.

  7. Wookie

    angry face

    is it just me or does the spider appear to have an angry face. I'd reckon that I'd be pretty annoyed too though.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A scale would be useful . .

    You know; for people who don't know the size of extinct spiders and wasps.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: A scale would be useful . .

      Back in the good old days, wagon wheels and wasps were much bigger.

    2. Anonymous Cowherder

      Re: A scale would be useful . .

      I'd say it was about yay big.

  9. SkippyBing

    The wasp is a relative of species which today are parasites on both spiders and their eggs.

    I know revenge is a dish best served cold but really, that's some planning on the wasp's part...

    1. IDoNotThinkSo

      Re: The wasp is a relative of species which today are parasites on both spiders and their eggs.

      Parasitic wasps are really really nasty. I believe John Hurt played the part of the spider/caterpillar in a film once...

  10. handle

    Seems a bit fishy to me

    Looks much more likely that the spider and the wasp were trapped separately and were brought together by the flowing sap.

  11. andy gibson

    Not fishy

    Spidery. Or waspy.

  12. handle

    Maybe fishy

    That big hairy thing might be an extinct species of big hairy eel.

  13. ElNumbre


    Spiders, Wasps and Amber Nectar - Three on my list of my least favorite things.

  14. David Gosnell


    I didn't think creatures trapped in amber were fossils, since they are not replaced by stone, but rather are preserved basically in stasis.

    1. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: Fossil?

      Nah, a fossil just refers to what is left behind marking the existence of a living thing from a "former geologic age." Other good examples of those not formed by tissue replacement are footprints left in mud that later solidified into rock or the early legislation of politicians who have served since the time of the dinosaurs.

      1. David Gosnell

        Re: Fossil?

        Traditionally, the definition of a fossil appears to require petrified form, which amber-entombed insects etc are not, however it seems this has relaxed - i.e. depends whose dictionary one takes as canon.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is impossible

    According Rep Paul the earth is only 6,000 years old.....

    This is one of those few times I am embarrassed to be an American.

    But I suppose this proves our democracy works - if this idiot can get elected than anyone can. {}:>]]

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Bush Jr. already proved that.

      You can stop proving that point now, we get it.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like