Modern spiders related to 500-million-year-old nightmare beasts


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That one on top is definitely a Great Old One. I can tell by the rugose cone.


The linked-to article is wrong, in that Onychophorans aren’t Arachnids. Velvet worms are not spiders/mites/etc.
The Nature paper says that they look most like Onychophorans, but could be the among the ancestors of the first arthropods (including Arachnids).


When I get home I’ll go look up the giant sized proto-spiders that roamed on land and post about them.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified onychophorans as arachnids. They are arthropods. The author has been soundly beaten by a phylogeny textbook.

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How very strange to single out spiders here. I thought maybe this was about new results putting the anomalocarids near the arachnids. But no, they’re still just put near the arthropods in general.

So yes spiders, but just as much all the ants, aphids, barnacles, beetles, bugs, centipedes, copepods, crabs, dragonflies, flies, grasshoppers, lice, lobsters, mantises, millipedes, mites, remipedes, scorpions, shrimp, silverfish, ticks, wasps, and many others.

It’s kind of like describing coelocanths as the ancient relatives of modern storks.


Thank you for alphabetically ordering your list.

…and ‘storks’ is better.

And I thought the critters I built when I was evolving in the ocean phase of Spore looked weird…

Haha, that’s a fun corrrection notice.

The tragedy is that these creatures evolved about 350 million years before the first milk-producing mammals, which means there was no way to enjoy them with melted butter.


Now to see if we get one nearly as good!

Trigonotarbida. That’s what I was thinking of - though technically I guess they are considered a dead cousin of spiders.

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The top image looked like a roving snack cake – the bottom one looks like a tick from hell (as opposed to the normal tick origin of heck).


Darn you to heck for bringing that up!

Still not right; onychophorans are in the pananthropod super-phylum.

Burgess shale critters!

Stephen Jay Gould wrote about them in Wonderful Life.

For a while I was naming my test video servers at work after Burgess Shale critters. Anomalocaris, Wiwaxia, and so on.


I’m SO happy it isn’t just me having that response to the “spider” comment.

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“Though some anomalocarids may have been as big as 7 feet long”

So that’s a little horrifying.

But my real question is whether any of them had wings that were suited to flying through the luminiferous aether.

This is awesome! I’m also mildly irked by the whole “ancient spiders” thing, but hey, any new info on my favorite geological era is welcome.

Just look at them:

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