*SPECIAL NOTE* - After being described in 2011, Nephila jurassica has since been found to not represent a species of Nephila, and was granted its own genus as Mongolarachne in 2013. This page remains online for archive purposes

Nephila jurassica

Name: Nephila jurassica.
Phonetic: neh-fil-a ju-rass-ic-ah.
Named By: Paul A.‭ ‬Selden,‭ ‬ChungKun Shih‭ & ‬Dong Ren‭. ‬-‭ ‬2011
Classification: Arthropoda,‭ ‬Arachnida,‭ ‬Araneae,‭ ‬Nephilidae,‭ ‬Nephila.
Species: Nephila jurassica.
Type: Carnivore.
Size: Body length of‭ ‬2.5cm.‭ ‬leg span of‭ ‬8.3cm.
Known locations: Mongolia,‭ ‬Daohugou Beds.
Time period: Middle Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Type specimen showing an almost complete impression,‭ ‬even revealing hair details.

       The specimen of Nephila jurassica recovered from the Daohugou Beds is the largest fossilised spider known to date.‭ ‬It has also pushed back the earliest known example of the Nephila genus way back‭ ‬165‭ ‬million years ago into the Jurassic.‭ ‬The remains were discovered in a sediment of volcanic ash which suggests that it was caught up and buried during an eruption,‭ ‬which would explain why the details were so well preserved.
       Spiders that belong to the Nephila group still exist today,‭ ‬although they are more commonly known as golden orb weavers.‭ ‬These spiders are known to catch anything from insects to small birds and bats in their webs.‭ ‬It is still unclear if the extreme sexual dimorphism seen in today’s Nephila‭ (‬males being much smaller than females‭) ‬was‭ ‬also‭ ‬present this far back.‭ ‬Given the broad geological spread of today’s spiders,‭ ‬it seems plausible that the spiders of this group evolved and spread across the supercontinent of Pangaea before it broke up into the landmasses we know today.


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