Left: the silk mesh 1 day after being seeded with fibroblast cells. Right: 4 days after seeding.
What’s the News: People have long known that spider silk has many practical uses, even in the medical field; Ancient Greeks, for example, employed the strong, flexible fiber as bandages. But the clinical uses of spider silk may stretch beyond that: scientists may someday be able to use the silk to help create artificial skin, according to new research out of the Hannover Medical School in Germany. In the study, published recently in the journal PLoS One, researchers successfully grew tissue-like skin on a mesh frame of silk harvested from golden silk orb-weaver spiders.
Nephila jurassica, with a 5mm scale bar
What’s the News: Researchers have unearthed the largest fossilized spider yet, announced in a study online today in Biology Letters. The fossil, a Jurassic Period ancestor of the modern orb-weaver spider, gives scientists a glimpse not only into the evolutionary history of orb-weaver spiders, but how these ancient arachnids might have impacted the evolution of insect species that could be snared in the webs.