Video Proof That Spiders Have Been Creepy for at Least 410 Million Years

Trigonotarbids make modern spiders seem teddy bear-level cuddly. See for yourself.

Jul 9 2014, 4:41pm
Image: Screenshot from YouTube

Trigonotarbids make modern spiders seem teddy bear-level cuddly. These early arachnids roamed the late Silurian and early Permian periods about 410 million years ago making them among the first predators ever to walk on land. And now, thanks to a video, you can see for yourself just how exquisitely creepy these ancient spider relatives were.

Armed with the open-sourced CGI program Blender and an exceptionally well-preserved fossil from Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, paleontologists Russell Garwood and Jason Dunlop were able to reconstruct the gait of this 410 million year old arachnid.

Dead arachnid walking. Video: Garwood, Dunlop/YouTube

“For me, what’s really exciting here is that scientists themselves can make these animations now, without needing the technical wizardry—and immense costs—of a Jurassic Park-style film,” said Dunlop in a statement.

“When I started working on fossil arachnids we were happy if we could manage a sketch of what they used to look like; now we can view them running across our computer screens.”

So, does this mean paleontologists will treat the public to even more reanimated extinct creatures in the future? Answer: a soft maybe.

“At the moment we don't have plans to recreate the motion of any other extinct arachnids,” Garwood told me. “First I think we need to better understand the movement of living arachnids.”

“However, another branch of my work involves CT scanning early arachnids in high resolution, and for that we do have a primitive arachnid—possibly a relative of the true spiders—in the works.” 

Garwood and Dunlop published their study today in the Journal of Paleontology. It gets extra points for the title “The walking dead. blender as a tool for paleontologists with a case study on extinct arachnids.”