The world’s oldest recorded spider built herself a hole, then just stayed there till age 43

Just how many walking sticks would an elderly spider require?

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Researchers in Australia monitored what is most likely the world’s oldest spider on record, who died at age 43, outstripping the previous record-holder, a 28-year-old tarantula.

The lead researcher, Leanda Mason, said of the spider in question, “to our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behaviour and population dynamics,” according to a press release.

Some people online were confused as to how the researchers knew the spider’s age.

Named “Number 16” (affectionate pet-names were notably absent from the paper) the female trapdoor spider was first documented as a spiderling in 1974 by a study initiated by Barbara York Main.

The study monitored individuals using tagged pegs put next to their burrows. Trapdoor spiders never re-use the disused burrow of another spider, so the researchers can be fairly confident that they were monitoring the same spider for 43 years.

Number 16 probably didn’t die of natural causes. On Oct. 31, 2016, the researchers found that her burrow had been pierced by a parasitic wasp. Her burrow fell into disrepair thereafter, meaning that poor Number 16 was probably eaten from the inside out by a spider wasp larva.

What a way to go.

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