110 million years after its death, Koreamegops samsiki and Jiniumegops dalingwateri still has beautifully shining eyes. The fossils of these extinct spiders were discovered in South Korea and they are so well preserved that their eyes still reflect light. This exceptional paleontological discovery was published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.
“Because these spiders were preserved in strange silver stains on dark stone, what immediately struck us was their large eyes, strongly marked with crescent shaped lines,” palaeontologist Paul Selden from the University of Kansas tells us.
A special eye structure
"I realised that it must have been the tapetum, a reflective structure in an inverted eye where the light enters and is returned to the retinal cells," explains Paul Selden. A structure found only in the eyes of some animals like cats. But also, in this case, some spiders. And not just any, as the researcher points out:
"In spiders, the ones we see with very big eyes are jumping spiders, but their eyes are normal, unlike the wolf spiders, whose eyes are reflected in the light like [those] cats" says Paul Selden, who also points out that: "Night predators tend to use this particular type of eye.”
An unparalleled look
According to the palaeontologist, these two fossilized spiders could have occupied the same ecological niche as the current jumping spiders. "But these spiders acted differently," says Paul Selden, "and their eye structure is different from that of jumping spiders." A very peculiar structure, which, moreover, had very little chance of being preserved over millennia stressed the palaeontologist:
"This is the first time a tapetum has been found in a fossil. It is good to have characteristics of the internal anatomy such as the ocular structure preserved in such an exceptional way. It's really not often that we have such a [structure] preserved in a fossil.”
110 million years after their death, Koreamegops samsiki and Jinjumegops dalingwateri spiders are now dazzling the eyes of scientists.
Check out the video above to see these incredible arachnids for yourself...