The World's Oldest Known Wild Spider Just Passed Away
She was so special — and had been living in the little home she built for herself for 43 YEARS 💕🏡
When researchers first met her in 1974, she was just a tiny spiderling.
They had no idea then that Number 16, as researchers would eventually call her, was so special.
But year after year, whenever they returned to Australia's North Bungulla Reserve to survey the spider population, she was still there, in the same underground burrow she had built for herself.
This continued until Number 16 was 43 years old — and had officially earned the title of oldest known spider in the world. In fact, she was 15 years older than the captive spider who once held that title.
As a trapdoor spider, Number 16 rarely left her burrow for more than a few minutes — and with such a complex system of tunnels and secret doors, she didn’t really need to. She used the tiny camouflaged doors as easy exit points to catch insects by surprise, and then retreated back inside with her food, sealing the door shut behind her.
It was a method she perfected, which has left scientists with an extraordinary look into the longevity of trapdoor spiders — so much so that they’ve just published a study about everything they’ve learned from her.
Unfortunately, Number 16 was pronounced dead in October 2016 after researchers noticed her burrow had been infiltrated by a parasitoid wasp. Her once magnificent home had fallen to ruins, and it was highly likely she had been killed.
But her impressive life will now be documented forever — and will further help the people who knew her for so many years better understand these amazing spiders.
"To our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded," study lead author Leanda Mason, a doctoral candidate at the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, said in a statement. "Her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behavior, and population dynamics.”