Lanigeris aranea

Lanigeris araneaThe Earth was a totally different place around five million years ago. The creatures that lived on the Earth back then were somewhat different as well. Several looked similar to their modern-day counterparts, with one not-so-subtle difference. Back then, they were giants.

And very woolly. Well some of them.

The Woolly Mammoth is one of the woolly creatures of yesteryear that is particularly well known to virtually everyone today… and possibly the folk who lived in those days as well. The Woolly Rhinoceros is another, although slightly less known. Other creatures were even more rare… the Woolly Hippopotamus for one; the Woolly Fish for another, and the creature that is featured in the image above… the very first woolly jumper to have ever existed, the Woolly Spider… or, to be more accurate, lanigeris aranea.

Lanigeris aranea lived almost everywhere. Under floorboards, inside cave walls, on Woolly Mammoths backs. The Earth was literally covered in the creatures, that were the size of a largish computer mouse… legs made it seem even larger.

They still had the eight legs that their more modern, and much smaller descendants, the common House Spider have, but apart from that they couldn’t be any more different.

They had two very sharp fang-like protrusions underneath their jaws, which were used to help them with climbing rather than eating. They had pincers on every leg, which also helped with climbing, but these were used to keep hold of their prey.

They’d be able to leap, sometimes up to eight feet in the air, from standing, to catch their latest meal with pinpoint accuracy. No webs were needed for these guys, they knew exactly what they were doing.

They were around in the days of the dinosaurs. They knew how to survive… and how to keep warm.

Their bodies and legs were covered in a thick wool. Well, thick for spider’s standards anyway. This wool allowed them to stay afloat in water, glide on the wind, cling to leaves and grasses in the wind… and as such they could be found everywhere. However, they needed to shed their wool regularly, especially when in warmer climates, and this wool started to cause problems with the eco systems of the time.

The arachnids evolved over time, shrinking in size to become the House Spider, however some retained their fabulous leaping capabilities. But luckily, not their wool. Imagine having to add cleaning up spider’s wool to a list of daily chores?

This week’s Illustration Friday theme is Wool, and I was completely uninspired as to what I could use for my illustration. However, as luck would have it, my Encyclopaedia Compositus fell open at the very page of the Woolly Arachnid. And from there, the inspiration for my illustration was born.

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26 thoughts on “Lanigeris aranea

  1. Brilliant! A “history” lesson + the illustration for this week’s theme! I’m not sure it should be called history lesson, but the proper name has completely slipped my mind! I want to say….anthropology or some thing like
    I’m so glad we don’t have any of those Wooly spiders around…or any large scary insects …I’d be terrified to even leave the room!


    • Hi Shree, palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life so that would fit in this scenario… it’s definitely an ology though! There are big insects in places, but they’re more scared of us than we are of them… I like to believe! ;)


      • That’s it!!! I knew I’d seen that “ology” word some where :P Well..maybe they do..but I’m an insect phobe….ALL insects except ants, mosquitoes, flies and uhmm…ladybugs…and maybe those teeny tiny little wittle insects…so uhmm….yea hehe


  2. I like spiders – very useful creatures – but having something that big is nothing compared to a Goliath Tarantula which is hairy and the size of a dinner plate!!! :)

    My mate Rick had one as a pet and had to put a house brick on its cage lid to stop it escaping with depressing regularity… :)

    God Bless!



  3. Not my favorite topic T but great illustration…So glad they toned down in size over the decades. I cannot imagine coming upon Prenin’s dinner plate sized spider!!! Shriek! Have a great weekend T and clean your mansion well. Who knows what lurks in all those dusty, unused rooms… VK


    • Thanks, VK. I know such spiders exist, but they’re in a place far, far away. I’d never see one around here… now, what was that scuttling noise I just heard… I’ll check later!
      Hope you have a good weekend!


  4. Here in San Antonio we have wooly arachnids. We have tarantulas. They’re quite shy creatures, actually. Many people keep them as pets and they are very loyal. I’ve seen them when I lived out in the country. They were prevalent out there, and they are quite pretty. They are also quite large. You can’t miss them. You can certainly see them crossing the road. The spiders to be scared of were the black widows and the brown recluse. Especially the brown recluse. Their bites were deadly and they hid in out of the way places and you didn’t know they were there until it was too late. The black widow you could at least tell from the markings but the brown recluse looks harmless. I thought once I’d been biten by one but I’d just been bitten by a regular spider but had wounds that wouldn’t heal for weeks. Give me a tarantula any day.


    • I actually like the look of a tarantula, but I don’t think I’d like one walking on me, Maire. I may put that down as a ‘thing to do’, but it would have to be for years in the future… I’m a little busy right now!
      I don’t like the sound of those brown recluses though…


  5. I’m glad they shrank to be able to fit in my glass tumbler, so’s I can catch them and remove them from my bath, shower… Otherwise I’d hate to think how big the container would have to be, and the need for a chair and whip would quickly change my desire to not hurt the poor little things.., I also gently place them outside … into the freezing cold… so it’s no wonder they look at me with such… erm.. gratitude? (catching up slowly here Sir Aquatom, small steps methinks),.. xPenx


  6. Love your drawing of woolly…I was once upon a time scared of spiders, but over came my fear of them, However I think if the little monsters such as you describe were about today… My fear of them might not so easily be overcome Lol….
    learned alot today :-)


    • Thanks once more, Sue… but don’t remember anything about these woolly arachnids. I mean they MAY have existed back then, but these were from the pages of my Encyclopedia Compositas – which is Latin for made up! However, I’m glad that you got over your fear of spiders!


      • It would if it was showing on that occasion! When the connection ‘s struggling as it does from time to time it won’t d-load the pics and shows a little square thingy in the corner instead…so until you get it working …. ARGGGGHHHHHHH!!!


        • Ah, right, I see.
          I shall incorporate a symbol into the header the next time I write a post about giant spiders, Icewolf… ¤ … like this one. (¤=ALT207, so I don’t forget… which I probably will) It’s actually a good job that these spiders aren’t real!


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