'World's oldest spider' dies at home after 43 years

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By Duncan Hooper
The hole where the oldest spider lived
The hole where the oldest spider lived   -   Copyright  Leanda Mason / Curtin University

A spider that lived in the same hole for 43 years has died, researchers said.

It was the oldest spider known to science, passing the previous record holder, a 28-year-old Mexican tarantula.

The Giaus Villsus trapdoor spider was first found living in Western Australia in 1974 by researcher Barbara York Main.

Main, now 88, was herself unable to follow the research through to its conclusions so the project was taken up by Leanda Mason who continued to study the arachnid using tiny cameras inside its burrow.

One of the secrets to the spider's long life was its sedentary lifestyle, as it rarely moved from its hole.

Leanda Mason / Curtin University
The 'world's oldest spider'Leanda Mason / Curtin University

The spider's cause of death is unknown, as researchers are unwilling to disturb the burrow, but Mason told Euronews a hole in its body could have been caused by a wasp laying its eggs inside, leading to the larvae eating the spider from the inside once they hatched.

The age of the spider illustrates the necessity to perform long-term research projects to see how human and natural environmental changes will impact species, the researchers said.