99 million-year-old spider mummies reveal moms cared for teeny spiderlings

A female of the now-extinct Lagonomegopidae spider family guards her egg sac in a tree cavity. (Image credit: Painted by Xiaoran Zuo; Xiangbo Guo, Paul Selden and Dong Ren; Proceedings of the Royal Society B (2021))

Big-eyed spiders were likely guarding their egg sacs and possibly caring for already hatched spiderlings when they were trapped in sticky tree resin some 99 million years ago. That resin hardened, locking up those arachnid mamas in four chunks of amber recently mined in Myanmar, and now considered the oldest evidence of maternal care in spiders, researchers say. 

Although the finding isn’t unexpected, given that many spider mothers care for their offspring nowadays, “it’s lovely to have actual physical evidence through these little snapshots in the fossil record,” study co-researcher Paul Selden, a distinguished professor emeritus of the Department of Geology at the University of Kansas, told Live Science.

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