A particularly diverse and vibrant array of olfactory Antarctic water sea spiders pack marine arthropods that are as large as dinner plates and use their spindle legs for breathing and digestion. Researchers are scared of these critters (such as the giant Antarctic sea spider Kolosandis megalonyx, Pictured above) may suffer as the oceans get warmer and more acidic, but an international collaboration has shown modern sea spiders to be long-line of hardcore survivors.
In the study, scientists genetically sequenced all living sea spider families (spanning 89 species, all remotely related to ground spiders) to form the first widespread family tree. He also included information from ancient fossils.
The results show which body parts evolved when, and it turns out that the ancestors of modern sea spiders are much older and stricter than before. The group has been thriving and diversified for nearly 500 million years, the team reports in this month Molecular Biology and Evolution. This is why despite the dramatic changes in sea temperature and chemistry, with the end-Permian mass deletion, which eliminated almost all marine life.
Are Sea Spiders So Hard? The answer remains unclear; It helps that they do not depend on cool armor such as clams and oysters, which dissolve in acidic water. But only time will tell how today’s aquatic creepy crawlers will fare against the challenges of modern times, such as microplastics, oil spills, and habitat destruction.