The world’s oldest known spider—a 43-year-old female Giaus Villosus trapdoor arachnid—has died, according to Australian researchers.
The solitary spider, who lived in a single burrow for its entire life, eventually succumbed to a parasitic wasp attack, The Independent reported.
The spider outlived the next-oldest known spider—a 28-year-old tarantula from Mexico—by some 15 years. The trapdoor, which researchers dubbed “no. 16,” The Telegraph reported, lived in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.
Australian arachnologist Barbara York Main monitored the spider population from 1974 until her retirement last year. A team of researchers, including doctoral student Leanda Mason from Curtin University in Western Australia, continued her work, according to a report on the death of the spider in the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal.
“To our knowledge, this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behavior and population dynamics,” Mason said in a statement.
“Through Barbara’s detailed research, we were able to determine that the extended lifespan of the trapdoor spider is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bushland, their sedentary nature, and low metabolisms,” she added.
Mason and team were devastated by the spider’s death. “We’re really miserable about it,” she told The Telegraph. “We were hoping she could have made it to 50 years old.”
The name ‘trapdoor’ refers to a number of relatively large spiders, some of whom create doors for their burrows, according to the Australian Museum. They have bodies that can stretch longer than an inch and legs that reach much further. They can normally live up to around 20 years. Male trapdoors usually die after mating with several females in their burrows.
Studying these species in long-term projects like York Main’s helps scientists understand the impact of a changing world on the creatures, the researchers said. “These spiders exemplify an approach to life in ancient landscapes, and through our ongoing research we will be able to determine how the future stresses of climate change and deforestation will potentially impact the species,” Curtin University researcher and study co-author Grant Wardell-Johnson said in a statement.