A Golden Thread

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The world’s oldest known spider web.

Timely news in Halloween and cobweb season: the spider’s web encased in a piece of amber found by two brothers on an East Sussex beach in 2006 has proved to be about 140 million years old. The earliest bits of web that have ever been incorporated in the fossil record, they date from a time when dinosaurs walked the Earth.

Alongside threads of the spider’s web, the amber also includes sticky droplets she secreted; plant matter; insect droppings; and ancient microbes.

What I find endlessly fascinating: as the spider was defeated with her own weapons (while she caught her prey with glue, her web got trapped in sticky resin), suddenly and against all odds, something as delicate and ephemeral as a spider’s web was preserved for eternity.

Read the full story about discovery, research and results here.

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