World's Oldest Spider Dies in Australia at the Age of 43—From a Wasp Sting
A tarantula that was believed to be the world's oldest spider has died at age 43. This is quite the advanced age for arachnids, which typically live five to 20 years, according to the Agence France-Presse.
Called Number 16 by the scientists who were studying her, the female trapdoor tarantula died of a wasp sting in the Australian outback.
She outlived the previous eight-legged record-holder—a tarantula in Mexico—by 15 years, according to research published in the Pacific Conservation Biology journal. Tarantulas tend to live their entire lives in the same burrow hole, making them easy to track.
By marking the burrow where Number 16 lived, scientists have been monitoring her movements in the wild ever since she was first found in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia in 1974. The study has shed light on the behavior of tarantulas, as well as their habits and habitats. It's also helping researchers better understand how factors like climate change and deforestation may impact the species.
Scientists 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," lead researcher Leanda Mason, of Curtin University, said in a statement.
Mason told The Telegraph that researchers were "really miserable" about Number 16's death. They had hoped she would make it a few more years to her 50th birthday.
More than 850 species of tarantula exist in the wild, and they're native to tropical areas and deserts throughout South America, Australia, Southern Asia, and Africa. Female tarantulas can live up to 30 years, but the lifespan of males is significantly shorter, according to the National Wildlife Federation.