When you think of Australia, what do you think about? Personally, I think about all the animals there that can kill me, because it is a continent full of crazy wildlife. A new story has alerted me to the fact that not only is Australia full of giants bugs, but that some of them are older and wiser than me. It's too much.
In a lab at Australia's Curtin University, a Trapdoor Spider named Number 16 has died. Number 16 was 43-years-old.
Maybe to you the death of one spider is no big deal, but can you imagine caring for an insect for over four decades? And Number 16 didn't even die of old age—it was stung to death by a wasp!
Number 16 was precious to the research team at the University, and they gave a long statement in its honor, via PhD student Leanda Mason:
“To our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behaviour and population dynamics,” Ms. Mason said.
“The research project was first initiated by Barbara York Main in 1974, who monitored the long-term spider population for over 42 years in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia."
“Through Barbara’s detailed research, we were able to determine that the extensive life span of the trapdoor spider is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bushland, their sedentary nature and low metabolisms.”
Somewhat unemotional, but a fitting tribute. Number 16 surpassed a tarantula that lived to be 28 in Mexico, the former world record holder for longest-living insect.
Finding out a bug can live longer than a lot of people has left people with questions and concerns:
Some are celebrating Number 16's demise:
But others are in mourning:
Even if you're creeped out by spiders, there's something very human about Number 16:
Why are we so scared of them anyway?
Rest in peace, Number 16. You lived a grander life than most, and confirmed that I will never go to the land down under.