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Scary ancient spiders revealed in 3-D models, thanks to new imaging technique
Date:8/5/2009

p>The scientists also discovered that Cryptomartus hindi had ball-like growths at the base of its limbs, called coxal endites. The scientists believe the coxal endites could be an evolutionary hang-over from their last common ancestor, who probably used the growths at the base of their limbs to help them grind their food. These coxal endite-type growths can still be seen today in species such as horseshoe crabs, which use them to grind up their prey before pushing it into their backward-facing mouths.

The computer models also revealed that Cryptomartus hindi's mouth appendages, called pedipalps, had tiny 'tarsal' claws attached at the end to help the creature to manipulate its prey. These claws are seen in rare modern-day arachnids such as the Ricinulei. The researchers say that the existence of this common physical feature, shared by the Cryptomartus hindi and the Ricinulei, lends further weight to the theory that they are closely related.

The models also reveal new information about Eophrynus prestivicii. Previous studies of fossilised remains of this creature suggested that it could have hunted on the open forest floor. It had long legs that enabled it to run through leaf litter to chase, catch and kill its prey.

The new models reveal, for the first time, that Eophrynus prestivicii had defensive spikes on its back. The researchers say that the spikes may have been a defensive adaption by Eophrynus prestivicii, to make them a less tempting meal for the amphibians that would have recently emerged from the oceans onto land.

The study's lead author, Mr Russell Garwood, PhD student from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says:

"Our models almost bring these ancient creatures back to life and it's really exciting to be able to look at them in such detail. Our study helps build a picture of what was happening during this period early in the hi
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Contact: Colin Smith
cd.smith@imperial.ac.uk
44-207-594-6712
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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