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Fossil Spotlight

Fossil Spotlight: Orb-Weaver Spider in Amber

Who: Pulchellaranea pedunculata
Lagerstätte: Dominican Amber
What: Pulchellaranea is an orb-weaver spider encased in amber from the Dominican Republic. Orb-weavers are the most common group of spiders who spin the wheel-shaped webs you see in your backyard, forests, and parks. Spiders are notoriously rare in the fossil record and over 90% of spider fossils are found in amber. Their rarity is due to their fragile nature and burial difficulties as their corpses tend to float on water and not sink. Spiders are more common in amber as it gently entombs them and minimizes decay. An ant, which are quite common in the Dominican Amber, joins this spider. Their proximity indicates they fell into the amber at the same time probably after a brief interaction.

Reference
-High def image from the New Yorker
-The same image can also be found in black and white along with a description of this species here
Poinar Jr, George. “Pulchellaranea pedunculata n. gen. n. sp.(Araneae: Araneidae), a new genus of spiders with a review of araneid spiders in Cenozoic Dominican amber.” Historical Biology 27.1 (2015): 103-108.

By Andy

I'm a museum science educator with a passion for all things geek and natural science related!

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