Giant Jurassic-era spiders were the size of a human hand

Anita Durairaj

Spiders are considered to be arachnids. They were the earliest terrestrial animals on Earth.

There are not a lot of fossil records for arachnids. However, records do exist for a giant species of spider.

Giant spiders (Mongolarachne jurassica) existed during the Jurassic Period. They are now an extinct species.

Fossilized specimens of the giant spiders were first discovered in 1984. The specimens were found to be very rare and only two were found.

In 2014, more specimens of the giant spiders were found in Inner Mongolia, China.

The largest-ever fossilized spider was also discovered in China. The male spider was the size of a human hand and lived 165 million years ago during the Middle Jurassic period. A male and female
giant spider specimen was both discovered on the same site.

The male spider would have been much smaller than the female spider and the species would have behaved like modern spiders. It is probable that the males would have occasionally been eaten by the females during courtship.

The spiders may have caught their prey by casting a net-like web. In turn, the giant spiders would have been targeted by small dinosaurs.

The spider fossils found in China were preserved in a laminated sedimentary rock created by volcanic ash. The volcanic ash helped with the preservation.

The two giant spider specimens are now safely preserved and housed at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China.

There are other species of giant spiders but the M. jurassica species remains the largest described fossil spider on record.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.

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