A face from the past - Hundsmanspider in Amber
German/British scientists use the latest methods in computer tomography to rescue information about a remarkable fossil spider from an unpromising piece of historical Baltic amber
A German/British research team (Berlin, Manchester, Hamburg and Frankfurt) used the latest methods in X-ray computer tomography to study a remarkable spider in a piece of 49 million year old amber from the Berlin Natural History Museum. Published in the international journal Naturwissenschaften, the scientists showed that the amber fossil – which can barely be seen under the microscope in the old and darkened amber – is a member of a living genus of the huntsman spiders: a group of often large, active, free-living spiders which are hardly ever trapped in amber. As well as documenting the oldest ever huntsman spider, especially through a short film revealing astounding details, the scientists showed that even specimens in historical pieces of amber which at first look very bad can yield vital data when studied by computer tomography.