arachnid walk
Computer simulation brings long-extinct 'spider' back to life University of Manchester/Museum für Naturkunde

An arachnid that lived 410 million years ago has been brought back from the dead by scientists thanks to advanced computer graphics.

Scientists were able to recreate the creepy crawly walk of the extinct species through fossils that showed the animal's cross section and were then able to work out the range of motion in the limbs.

The unnamed arachnid was one of the first predators to live on land and is an early relative of the spider.

Researchers at the University of Manchester and the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, used an open-source computer graphic programme called Blender to develop a video showing how the animal would have walked.

Published in the Journal of Paleontology, the researchers used the fossils to compare their range of motion to living arachnids to work out how they walked.

Study author Russell 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."

Jason Dunlop, co-author of the paper, added: "These fossils - from a rock called the Rhynie chert - are unusually well-preserved. During my PhD I could build up a pretty good idea of their appearance in life. This new study has gone further and shows us how they probably walked.

"For me, what's really exciting here is that scientists themselves can make these animations now, without needing the technical wizardry - and immense costs - of a Jurassic Park-style film.

"When I started working on fossil arachnids we were happy if we could manage a sketch of what they used to look like; now we can view them running across our computer screens."