More from the Collections Room

Nick Fraser from the National Museum of Scotland has been at VMNH this week looking through the Triassic material from the Solite Quarry, including both unsorted material and previously studied specimens. One of the most interesting is the genotype and only known specimen of Argyrarachne solitus, an araneomorph spider.

This is a tiny specimen, only a few millimeters across. It’s thought to represent a juvenile. While the abdomen is missing, all eight legs are preserved, as are the pedipalps (the leg-like structures beside the head in spiders), shown in the closeup below (not the greatest image in the world, as this was taken by holding my digital camera up to the microscope eyepiece):

Here are the pedipalps in a modern spider (Brachypelma smithi):

This specimen of Argyrarachne solitus remains the only known Triassic spider from North America, and is one of the oldest known araneomorph spiders in the world (Selden et al., 1999).


Selden, P. A., J. M. Anderson, H. M. Anderson, and N. C. Fraser, 1999. Fossil araneomorph spiders from the Triassic of South Africa and Virginia. The Journal of Arachnology 27:401-414.
This entry was posted in From the Collections Room, Newark Supergroup, Solite Quarry. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to More from the Collections Room

  1. Doug says:

    Cool spider fossil. These “from the collections” is turning out to be a good series. Keep it up!

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    Thanks, Doug. They’re a lot of fun to write, too.

    We’re in the middle of rehousing the entire collection (part of our apparently never-ending move to our new building), so we’re literally going through everything specimen-by-specimen. Since our vert paleo and paleobotany collections number in the tens of thousands (at least), I should have things to talk about for awhile!

  3. ScienceTim says:

    So it turns out that fossil spiders do not cause me to wig out. Unlike the extant spider in the last photo.

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