Look At This: A 100-Million-Year-Old Spider Attacking A Wasp

By Ashley P. Taylor | October 11, 2012 10:09 am

spider and wasp

This lucky wasp did not get eaten by the spider attacking it. But when we say “lucky,” we mean it only in a certain sense: moments after the wasp’s capture, they were both overtaken by a flow of tree resin and were preserved in amber for the next 100 million years, while their species and their dinosaur contemporaries from the Early Cretaceous period went extinct. The amber fossil is described in a new paper by George Poinar, the entomologist whose investigations into extracting dinosaur DNA from amber-locked mosquitoes inspired the book and movie, Jurassic Park. New research into the half-life of DNA puts that out of the question, but who knows: it might not be too late for these ancient bugs to cut a movie deal.

Photo via Oregon State University/Flickr

  • Antony

    I guess some things never change.

    Or perhaps this was the crucible of spider-wasp enmity! The other spiders and wasps watched the sap cover their feuding kings and each side vowed vengeance for all eternity.

    Or, y’know, the spider was hungry.

  • alex

    The Homo genus evolved and spans 2 Million years. 100 million years ago the spider looks like a spider and the wasp looks like a wasp. What’s wrong with this picture? What am I missing?

  • floodmouse

    How fast does tree resin flow? I always thought amber only formed around things that were already dead. The only kind of tree resin I have seen flowing is on pine trees, which is just a couple of little tiny beads that are so thick and sticky, they flow slower than that old TV commercial for Heinz ketchup. If anyone has any information on this subject, please let me know. I’m too busy today (and/or lazy, take your pick ) to search online for something so off-beat as the velocity of tree resin.

  • Jenny

    Antony said it all.

  • http://Gmail Elsa bondar

    What you eat can trap you in more ways than this, and perhaps be just as lethal over a longer period of time.

  • http://www.rationalpastime.com J-Doug

    “Look At This: A 100-Million-Year-Old Spider Attacking A Wasp”

    So, how old was the wasp then?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2012/10/11/look-at-this-a-100-million-year-old-spider-attacking-a-wasp/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+80beats+%2880beats% Nort

    Wow, so cool! how do they do that? Get caramelized in sap I mean. That is totally awesome!!!:)

  • http://www.starcruzer.com MrJ

    Most likely the spider put an unwary leg or two into a tongue of gooey resin.

    It got stuck and couldn’t escape – and the resin could then oh-so-slowly overwhelm captor and prey.

    Could have taken days I guess.

  • Common Sense

    No, alex said it all.

  • geack

    @9. So you have some idea what in the world he’s asking? ‘Cause I sure can’t figure it out. He makes a basically true statement and then seems to imply it doesn’t make sense.

  • Bioteacher

    Alex – a species only changes if there is pressure. Not everything evolves at the same rate

  • Jay29

    @10. geack, It appears alex is someone with the mistaken idea that natural selection always leads to more complex forms. He sees intelligence develop in apes and assumes a similar kind of development must occur in other species.


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