Largest Spider Fossil Ever Found

Largest Fossil Spider


Ain’t Mother Nature Wonderful



Yes, I intentionally used a grammatically incorrect figure of speech for the title of this article. And no, I did not think it was inappropriate given the topic being considered. For those who are not up to speed concerning such matters, the fossil record has long been used to support Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. This continues even though everything in the fossil record appears abruptly, fully-formed, without clearly delineated precursors or transitional fossils appearing therein. That said, the reason for my statement is the discovery of “the largest fossilized spider yet.” This fossil was found preserved in volcanic ash in the Daohugou fossil beds in northeastern China dating back 165 million years. The researchers dubbed the species Nephila jurassica (Discover, 2011).

While I will refrain from sharing the specifics of fossil formation, suffice it to say that, in general, there are several methods of fossilization. Basically, something must die and quickly be preserved (buried) in conditions suitable for the preservation of plants or animals for future observation.

My topic is hot-off-the-press of the Discover website (the website of Discovery magazine). It is an article entitled, “Largest Fossil Spider Ever Found Gives Peek Into Arachnid Evolution.” While many of the evolutionary faithful are all atwitter concerning this article, I find myself encouraged concerning my faith in the Creator. Once again, we are seeing another example of the Word of God in nature. Spiders, like all other living creatures, reproduce themselves “according to their own kind,” Gen.1:21, 24. This is the terminology, e.g. kind, used in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. I submit to you that the biblical description is the best (as well as the most accurate) term to describe the general categories of living organisms we see in nature, i.e. the dog kind, the bird kind, the reptile kind, the fish kind, etc.

And what did these researchers discover? Well, it is the largest (and oldest if you believe the molecules-to-men or the rocks-to-Rowitt Darwinian dogma) example of a spider to date. Now, you might say, “why all the hubbub about a fossil (and another example of a living fossil at that) of a spider?” It seems that this discovery pushes the evolutionary clock on spiders back from the earliest known fossil of the Nephila genus, they say was 34 million years old, to the origin of the genus 130 million years earlier than researchers previously thought. (Selden, Shih & Ren, 2011).

When I finished reading this article, I was amazed at the excitement this discovery might generate, at least within the evolutionary community. Let’s look at the actual facts that can be gleaned about this fossil. Aside from the readjustment of the evolutionary time frame for arachnid evolution:

  • It is a fossil of a female spider

  • It had a 1" body and was 6" in total leg span

  • It has remained virtually unchanged through time

  • It is no larger than 50% of spiders we see today

  • It is not the oldest spider by at least 145 million years

This genus, Nephila, is a very common representative of the class Arachida. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent (except for Antarctica), and have become established in nearly every habitat with the exception of air and sea colonization. As of 2008, approximately 40,000 spider species and 109 families have been recorded by taxonomists (Platnick, 2009). However, there has been confusion within the scientific community as to how all these families should be classified. This is evidenced by the over 20 different classifications that have been proposed since 1900 (Foelix, 1996).

I am not surprised by the confusion generated by the evolutionary establishment concerning taxonomy. God’s creation reflects the awesome power and majesty of our great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.

The biblical taxonomy allows us to properly understand how every living organism (as well as every human being) is fearfully and wonderfully made:

I will praise You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well, Psalm 139:14

When we understand that there are at least 40,000 spider species identified, and we further understand that each and every one of them is a spider (even allegedly extinct species from the fossil record), we can appreciate the wisdom of God in separating living organisms according to “kind.”  The reality that every living organism is preprogrammed in their DNA to reproduce themselves “each according to its kind,” shows us the hand of God, the Master Designer, at work in what He has created.

I will not belabor the point concerning “living fossils.”  Suffice it to say that there are currently many living fossils (Lazarus taxon, e.g. either one species or a group of species that suddenly reappears) in the fossil record or in nature (Wikipedia, 2011).  Once thought to be extinct organisms abound, and more will no doubt be discovered in the future.  Some examples of the Lazarus taxon include:

  • The coelacanth that was thought to have gone extinct 65 million years ago, until an intact specimen was discovered alive and well in 1938.

  • With little change over the last 450 million years, the horseshoe crab shows a strong resemblance to the extinct trilobites that roamed ancient earth, thus making the horseshoe crab appear as a living fossil.

  • Crocodilians appeared about 220 million years ago and remained virtually unchanged ever since.

  • The Wollemi tree thought to have gone extinct 200 million years ago was rediscovered in 1994.

For reasons that should now be apparent to everyone reading this article,  I think this latest and greatest discovery is a wonderful example of “much ado about not much.” While I value the fact that a wonderful fossil specimen of a spider has been uncovered,  I also understand the fact that the direct relatives of this fossil specimen appear to be “alive and well” and living in Japan, Africa, South America and North America and many other warm places the world over.

I would be remise if I did not remind everyone that living fossils are examples of special creation, and the diversity within “kinds” is an example of the adaptability that is inherent in the genetic blueprint known as DNA.  A blueprint that includes the ability to adapt and survive in nature.  This is a hallmark of the Creator’s plan that He has ordained for all living organisms.  It is evidently so important, so foundational to His plan, that he confirms this truth often in the Pentateuch (Torah).

And God blessed them, saying,
“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas,
and let birds multiply on the earth,” Gen. 1:22.

Then God blessed them, and God said to them,
“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it;
have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air,
and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” Gen. 1:28.

And after the worldwide cataclysmic Flood recorded in chapters 6-9 of the book of Genesis, we read:

Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you:
birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,
so that they may abound on the earth,
and be fruitful and multiply on the earth,” Gen. 8:16-18.

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them:
“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, Genesis 9:1.

And as for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Bring forth abundantly in the earth
And multiply in it,” Genesis 9:7.

After God heard the cry of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, He told her:

And as for Ishmael, I have heard you.
Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful,
and will multiply him exceedingly.
He shall beget twelve princes,
and I will make him a great nation, Gen. 17:20.

After Rebekah pleaded with her husband, Isaac, concerning the proper choice of a wife for their son Jacob, e.g. that he should not do as his brother Esau did and disobediently take a wife from the Canaanites, Gen. 26:34-35, Isaac called Jacob to himself and said:

“May God Almighty bless you,
And make you fruitful and multiply you,
That you may be an assembly of peoples, Gen. 28:3.

God appears to Jacob and restates the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant to him:

Also God said to him:
“I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply;
 a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you,
and kings shall come from your body, Genesis 35:11.

Jacob restates the promise God gave to him in Gen. 35:11 concerning the Palestinian Covenant, Gen. 15:18-21, 17:8; Nu. 34:1-12, and shares it with Joseph:

‘…and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you,
and I will make of you a multitude of people,
and give this land to your descendants after you
as an everlasting possession,’ Gen. 48:4.

 And God reaffirms His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Mosaic Covenant:

‘For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful,
multiply you and confirm
My covenant with you, Lev. 26:9.

When we demonstrate the importance of God’s instructions concerning reproduction, and the evidence we see all around us that everything indeed reproduces according to its own kind, the warning of the Apostle Paul to his younger ministerial counterpart Timothy rings as true today as it did in the first century:

Guard what was committed to your trust,
 avoiding the profane and idle babblings
and contradictions of what is falsely called science (knowledge)
 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith...
I Tim. 6:20-21.

I think Paul’s warning to Timothy is as relevant today as the day it was written. Many of these scientific finds are indeed important and they can be extremely informative. I  regret the way the false teaching of Darwinian evolution has been unduly injected into the body of scientific knowledge. The discovery of Nephila  jurassica is just one case in point. If it were not for the actual evidence, perhaps I too (along with the evolutionary faithful) could proclaim concerning this fossil discovery, “Ain’t Mother Nature wonderful?”

Submitted by Steven Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.

References

Discover (2011). Largest Fossil Spider Ever Found Gives Peek Into Arachnid Evolution. Discover online is the website of Discovery magazine. Accessed 4.21.11 from http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/04/20/largest-fossil-spider-
ever-found-shines-a-light-on-arachnid-evolution/comment-page-1/#comment-820029.

Foelix, R. F. (1996). Biology of Spiders. 198 Madison Ave. NY, New York, 10016:
Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-19-509593-6. Accessed 4.21.11 from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiders#cite_note-WSC-1.

Platnick, N. I. (2009). The World Spider Catalog, version 9.5. American Museum of Natural History.
http://research.amnh.org/entomology/spiders/catalog/COUNTS .html. Retrieved 2009-04-25. Accessed 4.21.11 from http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/Spiders#cite_note-WSC-1.

Selden, P., Shih, C. & Ren, D. (2011). “A golden orb-weaver spider (Araneae:Nephilidae: Nephila) from the Middle Jurassic of China.” Biology Letters online before print, April 20, 2011. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0228.

Wikipedia (2011). A list of living fossils. Accessed 4.21.11 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_fossils