Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a rare dinosaur age fossil of a spider attacking a wasp caught in its web, perfectly preserved in amber.
The amber sample provides the first fossil evidence of such an assault, the researchers said. Dating back to the Early Cretaceous, between 97 million and 110 million years ago, the fossil was excavated in a Burmese mine.
"This juvenile spider was going to make a meal out of a tiny parasitic wasp, but never quite got to it," George Poinar, Jr, a zoology professor at Oregon State University, said in a statement.
"This was a male wasp that suddenly found itself trapped in a spider web. This was the wasp's worst nightmare, and it never ended. The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them."
Researchers say both the spider and the wasp belong to extinct genera. They added that the "extraordinarily rare" find may provide invaluable insight into the behavior of ancient spiders.