A Florissant fossil spider discovery

The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is known worldwide for its late Eocene (34mya) fossil plants and insects. Recently, a fossil spider was discovered at the commercial quarry, which is near the fossil beds (Fig. 1). Due to the condition of the fossil, it can only be assigned to the family Lycosidae (see table) (Rasnitsyn, 2012). If correct, this classification would make it a wolf spider.

This fossil wolf spider lived 34mya under Florissant rocks, within the forest litter or on short herbaceous plants (Meyer, 2003). Based on its modern relatives, it would have had colours that helped camouflage it, allowing it to hide from its prey (Meyer, 2003). According to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument fossil database, only one other member of the family Lycosidae (from the Greek word for ‘wolf’) has been discovered there. Petrunkevitch (1922) described this fossil and assigned it to the species Lycosa florissanti, from a well-preserved fossil specimen.

Spiders belong to the class Arachnida. Unlike insects, arachnids have eight legs instead of six, have two body sections instead of three, and do not have antennae or wings.

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