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305 mya fossil “almost a spider?”

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From NPR:

The main point of distinction: This newly discovered arachnid very likely could produce silk but lacked the spinnerets used by true spiders to, well, spin it, the scientists say. The researchers say it belongs to a “sister group” to the real-deal spiders.

Here’s more from National Geographic on the comparatively clumsy beginnings of spiderly silk production:

“While delicately constructed webs seem synonymous with spiders, we know from the fossil record that the ability to secrete silk came before the ability to carefully control it. Spider relatives called uraraneids, which lived from 385 million years ago through the time of Idmonarachne, could produce silk but could not build webs.”

University of Manchester’s Russell Garwood, who was one of the article’s authors, told the BBC, “This fossil is the most closely related thing we have to a spider that isn’t a spider.” More.

Could produce silk but couldn’t build webs? Okay, let’s keep the file open. We’ve heard accounts like that before. Cambrian eyes (“sophisticated”) and behaviour (“behaviourally sophisticated”) were supposed to be primitive, because … well…

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See also: Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen

17 Replies to “305 mya fossil “almost a spider?”

  1. 1
    tjguy says:

    I don’t want to be a party pooper, but I wonder why a spider would have evolved the ability to produce silk for absolutely no reason whatsoever. If it couldn’t be spun, why would it have evolved?

    Oh, I’m sure some evolutionist can come up with a “just so story” to semi-explain it. They always do, but how in the world could anyone ever know if they are right?!

    A spider that evolved the ability to produce silk, but couldn’t use it.

    I guess to avoid the theory destroying problem of irreducible complexity, you have to believe in irrational stuff like this.

  2. 2
    wd400 says:

    An organism doesn’t need CV spinnerets to use silk (as evidenced by the hundreds upon hundreds of insect species that do so) and even modern spiders use silk for a lot then web building.

  3. 3
    Origenes says:

    Wd400,

    What would be the most basic use of silk — a utilization that doesn’t require a specific set of skills and tools?
    Let’s suppose that an almost-spider evolves the ability to produce silk, but , at that moment in evolutionary history, lacks a specific ability to use it. How can the silk production be useful for the almost-spider?

  4. 4
    News says:

    Silk might be used to trap prey, thrown about as glue.

    It would be interesting to know if all current spiders have spinnerets.

    That said, it seems as if these authors are making a bet against future discoveries about past complexities, a bet that might be unwise in these times.

  5. 5
    tjguy says:

    An organism doesn’t need CV spinnerets to use silk (as evidenced by the hundreds upon hundreds of insect species that do so) and even modern spiders use silk for a lot then web building.

    My guess would be that even the ability to produce silk would be an irreducibly complex ability. No proof of course.

    So, why would a spider evolve the ability to produce silk if not to catch insects and make webs? To use the silk, there would have to be a way to excrete it or get it out of it’s body, right?

    How would they have gotten along without that ability before it evolved?

    If they got along without it in the past, why the “need” to evolve it? Some change in environment? Could they really evolve that ability that quickly to save them from some environmental change?

    I guess we can speculate until the sun goes down and never really know, but that’s not science is it – at least not if the speculations/hypotheses are untestable.

    This is why it is great to be an evolutionist today. Total job security. All you need is a good imagination and a knack for creative storytelling and you can get a job. No accountability whatsoever!

    So we have this semi-spider that can produce silk, but it is stuck in it’s body. Then all of a sudden, spinnerets begin to evolve. Not sure what good a half spinneret would be, but anyway, they evolve spinnerets that can spin thick strands, thin strands, different stickiness, etc. They then hope that there will be corresponding software written by chance mutations for the brain of the spider to teach it where and how to spin a web and how to catch insects.

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could actually test this kind of a hypothesis to see if it actually holds even a drop of water?!

  6. 6
    Origenes says:

    News: Silk might be used to trap prey, thrown about as glue.

    That may very well be the solution. Thrown with a basic catapult mechanism, I suppose. That would be not so difficult to evolve: a few muscles, neurons and an external not-sticky-basket. Precision can evolve in due time.

  7. 7
    wd400 says:

    Tjguy,

    I really think you should go learn some biology, including the many uses of silk among insect and by spiders, then perhaps you can produce a post that contains more than your own incredulity.

  8. 8
    Origenes says:

    wd400: (…) the many uses of silk among insect and by spiders (…)

    Which use do you regard as the most basic? see #3

  9. 9
    mw says:

    Spider designs.
    Extract:
    “Attached to each spinneret are glands that manufacture different versions of the silk protein fibroin. A miniscule pumping system transports the liquid silk from each gland to the spigots. The kind of silk depends on what it’ll be used for. Different spigot designs and glands make threads that vary in thickness, stretchiness, and stickiness. The thickness is controlled by the tiniest of valves before the silk leaves the spigot.

    Some glands make threads for the anchor and frame of the web. Other glands make fine, cottony threads to wrap the spider’s prey or eggs. A different set of glands produce the thin, stretchy threads and the glue that makes them sticky.” https://answersingenesis.org/creepy-crawlies/ultimate-web-designer/

    Did spiders evolve before birds? If so, how could they know how to camouflage themselves as bird droppings?  http://m.livescience.com/45956.....-poop.html

    380 m.y. ago, spiders started to “evolve.” 150 m.y. ago for birds to “evolve.”?

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    Arachnophobic birds. Obviously birds evolved their droppings to look like spiders.

  11. 11
    wd400 says:

    Origines,

    Hard to say — some more simple uses are securing the animal (or something else, like a sperm packet) to some surface, or creating a shelter.

    Mw, I think it’s probably possible that spiders are older than birds, but spiders that mimic bird droppings are not. .

  12. 12
    Origenes says:

    Here are some speculations by Paul Selden, related to a similar finding in 2008

    Selden eventually realized that the creature did not have a spinneret. The tiny hollow hairs that excrete spun silk, called spigots, are arranged in a double row on plates lining Attercopus ‘s belly, and what had been identified as a spinneret was actually a plate folded over.

    Without spinnerets, the creatures could not have precisely controlled the emerging silk. “It would have been much less manoeuvrable,” says Selden. Possibly, he says, the silk dragged out from under them in sheets as they crawled along. Silk sheets could have been used to reinforce the walls of sandy burrows, or to make a breadcrumb trail to help the spiders find their way home after hunting.

    Today, female spiders wrap eggs in silk, and aroused males deposit sperm onto a silk structure called a sperm web. Attercopus might have done the same, says Selden.

  13. 13
    mw says:

    See also the dancing peacock spider:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d_yYC5r8xMI

    Darwin had brain ache how the bird peacock pattern assembled/evolved, then he applied his wand over the problem to the words, “common descent natural selection.”

    You can apply this formula to the spiders knee joints, eyes, and web building skills, the methods of weaving and the mechanisms to produce pattern. In fact, to the whole spider. It works for all life forms.

  14. 14
    mw says:

    It seems that boimimetics, intelligent humans studying intelligent designs in nature, is a hot topic:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02740.html

  15. 15
    mw says:

    The whale-spider.

    Darwin was most upset when his publisher deleted an imaginary species written into the first edition of Origin. The whale-bear, was a hypothesis too far. Darwin was most cut. If his theory could not provide answers to every imaginative outcome for life forms, then it was fallible. If people could not believe in the possibility of a whale-bear evolution, why believe in anything else, equally as preposterous under such terms. Still, the most powerful acedemic theory (not law) in history holds sway.

    Besides, Judaeo-Christianity is a “damnable religion;” the master of designless design said.

    His book, now voted the most influential academic book in history, was first in a list of 20 books, which included the Communist Manifesto, and a book by Stephen Hawkins, http://www.theguardian.com/boo.....les-darwin

    Still, a whale-spider could have evolved if the theoretical evolutionary process had taken another imaginary path; even flying humans; and certainly flying pigs.

    Of course, common descent is all done by never seen imperceptible steps, and never actually harnessed natural selection, selecting a pathway to never conclusively experimentally proved common descent; that is, using the parameters of evolution theory to evolve a brand new life form with increased informational content.

    Darwin created a powerful god-like imaginary idea, far exceeding the Judaeo-Christian scripture which, nevertheless, claims only to see through a dark glass; that is, within the limits of a God given faith; mainly the result of a singular historically documented experience from Sinai, many believe.

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave . . .”

  16. 16
    drc466 says:

    So, explain this to me. Here’s what we know about “true” spiders:
    1) All spiders make silk
    2) Not all spiders spin webs
    3) The number of spinnerets a spider has can vary – 6, 4, or 2

    Isn’t it just as likely, if not more so, that this species of spider a) didn’t need spinnerets and therefore b) didn’t have spinnerets and just c) went extinct and/or hasn’t been discovered in the wild yet?

    After all – the spider was clearly able to survive without the spinnerets, or we wouldn’t have fossils of it, would we? Which makes the assertion that this species was a predecessor to modern spiders as likely to be wishful thinking as scientific fact. Did it evolve into a 2, 4, or 6 spinneret model? Did it immediately start spinning webs once it “evolved” its spinnerets? If it survived without spinnerets, why would it bother evolving spinnerets? Does the software to actually USE a spinneret come free with the evolution of the spinneret, or do I have to buy that separately?

    Pfft. If evolutionists had found penguin fossils prior to discovering penguins, they would have claimed they were ancestors to either birds or seals. File this one under

    Evolution’s Best Just-So Stories!

  17. 17

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