A scientist from the University of Manchester has discovered the firstidentified droplets of spider blood in a piece of amber up to 20million years old.
Two droplets of blood, technically known as haemolymph, have beenpreserved in the amber which also contains the spider -- Filistatidae-- a family commonly found in South America and the Caribbean.
The droplets are the first identified examples of spider bloodever found in an amber fossil. It is possible the blood could be usedto extract DNA.
The fossil, which is 4cm long and 2cm wide, was discovered in the Dominican Republic and dates back to the Miocene period.
Palaeontologist Dr David Penney, of the School of Earth,Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, has now used the blood dropletsto trace how, when, and where the spider died all those years ago.
David, said: "It's amazing to think that a single piece ofamber with a single spider in it can open up window into what was goingon 20 million years ago.
"By analysing the position of the spider's body in relation tothe droplets of blood in the amber we are able to determine how itdied, which direction it was travelling in and even how fast it wasmoving."
In the latest issue of the journal Palaeontology (2005, vol.48, part 5) David describes how the spider died. He believes the spiderwas climbing up a tree when it was struck head-on by a sudden strongflow of resin. The spider then became engulfed in the resin and died.
He argues that the shape and position of the blood dropletsreveals which direction the spider was travelling in. It also revealswhich of the spider's legs broke first.
David discovered the fossil in 2003 during a visit to the Museodel Ambar Dominicano in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. His researchinitially focused on the spider which he identified as an entirely newspecies of spider. On his return to the UK, further research revealedthe droplets of blood and the information the fossil contained.
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