The Spider that is named golden orb-weavers or Nephila dates back to 165 million years ago. Nephila is known for preying on birds and bats along with insects. Scientist believe Nephila hunts Insects that was medium in size.
The fossil was about as large as its modern relatives, with a body one inch (2.5 centimeters) wide and legs that reach up to 2.5 inches (6.3 cm) long.
“It would have lived, like today’s Nephila, in its orb web of golden silk in a clearing in a forest, or more likely at the edge of a forest close to the lake,” researcher Paul Selden, director of the Paleontological Institute at the University of Kansas, told LiveScience. “There would have been volcanoes nearby producing the ash that forms the lake sediment it is entombed within.”
Spiders are the most numerous predators on land today, and help keep insect numbers in check. So these findings help us “understand the evolution of the insect-spider predator-prey relationship,” Selden said, suggesting that golden orb-weavers have been ensnaring insects and influencing their evolution since the Jurassic Period.
“There were many large or medium-sized flying insects around at that time on which it would have fed indiscriminately,” Selden said.
Selden and his colleagues are now investigating other fossil spiders from China, “as well as those from elsewhere in the world — currently Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Italy and Korea,” he said.
The scientists detail their findings online April 20 in the journal Biology Letters.