Fossil hunter finds 140-million-year-old spider's web
Added: Mon, 02 Nov 2009 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Scottishgeologist for the links.
The tiny tangled filaments date back 140 million years and are linked to each other in the roughly circular pattern familiar to gardeners everywhere.
The web appears to be similar to those of modern orb web spiders, which weave a spiral of silk to catch insect prey.
The amber was found by an amateur fossil hunter whilst looking for dinosaur remains, and was handed over to palaeobiologist Professor Martin Brasier whose findings are published in the the Journal of the Geological Society.
The tiny threads about 1 millimetre (1/20th of an inch) long are held in suspension amid bits of burnt sap and fossilized vegetable matter.
Prof Brasier, of the University of Oxford, said: "This amber is very rare. It comes from the very base of the Cretaceous period, which makes it one of the oldest ambers anywhere to have inclusions in it."
As well as threads of spider webs the amber contains plant matter, insect droppings and ancient microbes that were trapped during the early Cretaceous Period, a time when the world was a much warmer place, and dinosaurs such as the Iguanodon and the Allosaurus were in their prime.
And from BBC
Spider web confirmed as 'oldest'
Spider webs encased in amber which were discovered on an East Sussex beach have been confirmed by scientists as being the world's oldest on record.
The amber, which was found in Bexhill by fossil hunter Jamie Hiscocks and his brother Jonathan, dates back 140 million years to the Cretaceous period.
Professor Martin Brasier said they were the earliest webs to be incorporated into the fossil record.
He has published his findings in the Journal of the Geological Society.
Professor Brasier, who is a palaeobiologist at the University of Oxford, said: "This amber is very rare. It comes from the very base of the Cretaceous, which makes it one of the oldest ambers anywhere to have inclusions in it."
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