Researchers have recently published a study in the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal, recording the life of the world’s oldest spider. The 43-year-old Giaus Villosus trapdoor matriarch has recently died. She was part of a long-term study and she outlived the previous spider which held the record. The previous one lived for 28 years in Mexico.
Lead author of the study is Ph.D. student Leanda Mason (School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University) said that the research was fruitful along the years:
“To our knowledge, this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behavior and population dynamics.”
The project first started in 1974, when Barbara York Main started monitoring a spider population for long-term analysis. The research went on for over 42 years in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.
The Life History of a Spider
Mason said that Barbara’s research helped them see that the long life of a trapdoor spider “is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bushland, their sedentary nature, and low metabolisms.”
The team of researchers continues Barbara’s work. She is now 88 years old and happy to know her studies were continued. The team gathered information in the spider’s age, the cause of death and learned how it lived through the years.
Co-author of the study and Associate Professor, Grant Wardell-Johnson, (School of Molecular and Life Sciences) is also the Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre for Mine Site Restoration (CMSR). He explained how the behavior of the spider helped it survive in Australia:
“These spiders exemplify an approach to life in ancient landscapes, and through our ongoing research we will be able to determine how the future stresses of climate change and deforestation will potentially impact the species.”
Learning how different species live in Australia is important to scientists, who try to understand how the continuous climate change affects them and how they adapt to it.
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