(ORDO NEWS) — Paleontologists have discovered a spider from the jumping family in Chinese amber about 14.7 million years old. This is only the second find of a fossil horse racer in China. The preliminary version of the article was published in the journal Palaeoworld.
Spiders (Araneae) are a very diverse order of arthropods. In April of this year, the publishers of the World Spider Catalog announced that scientists had discovered the 50,000th species of modern spiders (as of June 24, 50,195 species are already known).
It turned out to be a representative of the racehorse family (Salticidae). It is this family that is the largest in terms of the number of species and genera among spiders: according to the World Catalog of Spiders, today 6431 species of 664 genera belong to jumping horses.
However, despite the current high diversity, jumping horses are not very common in the fossil record. All discovered fossils of this family belong to the Cenozoic. Moreover, about 70 percent of the species were found in the Paleogene deposits (66–23 million years ago).
Han Wang from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his colleagues from China and Germany described a horse from the Neogene.
The spider was found in amber from the Fujian province in southeast China. Amber is approximately 14.7 million years old (Middle Miocene). Organisms from this amber and related sediments belong to the Zhangpu biota.
Scientists were able to identify the jumping horse only up to the subfamily Salticinae. The authors note that this is only the second fossil jumping horse from China – the first belongs to the Miocene Shanwang biota, 17–15.5 million years old.
Paleontologists believe that the Zhangpu biota is similar to some representatives of this family that live today in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. According to the authors, this once again proves that the Zhangpu ecosystem was a tropical forest.
Earlier, we wrote about how a spider with an egg cocoon was found in Burmese amber, about 99 million years old, as well as recently hatched spiders. This is the oldest evidence of care for offspring among spiders.
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