Fossil records have allowed scientists to unlock a 410 million-year-old secret: the way an ancient arachnid crawled around.
Using fossils from London’s Natural History Museum that contain a cross section of the early spider, researchers from the University of Manchester and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin were able to determine the range of the arachnid’s limbs. Taking that data, as well as the strides of the modern-day spider, scientists were able to recreate, via animation, what they think was the ancient animal’s stride.
“When it comes to early life on land, long before our ancestors came out of the sea, these early arachnids were top dog of the food chain,” said paleontologist Dr. Russell Garwood, one of the authors of the study. “They are now extinct, but from about 300 to 400 million years ago, seem to have been more widespread than spiders. Now we can use the tools of computer graphics to better understand and recreate how they might have moved — all from thin slivers of rock, showing the joints in their legs.”