A team of scientists used fossils – thin slices of rock showing the animal’s cross-section – to work out the range of motion in the limbs of this ancient, extinct early relative of the spiders. From this, and comparisons to living arachnids, the researchers used an open source computer graphic program called Blender to create the video showing the animals walking.
Study author Russell Garwood is a palaontologist in the University of Manchester. Dr. Garwood said:
When it comes to early life on land, long before our ancestors came out of the sea, these early arachnids were top dog of the food chain. They are now extinct, but from about 300 to 400 million years ago, seem to have been more widespread than spiders. Now we can use the tools of computer graphics to better understand and recreate how they might have moved – all from thin slivers of rock, showing the joints in their legs.
The study is published in a special issue of the Journal of Paleontology.
Bottom line: Scientists used fossils to create a video to re-create the walking gait of a 410 million-year-old extinct arachnid.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.