This proto-spider was found preserved in amber. Photo: Bo Wang

Four specimens of a 100-million-year old spider-like arachnid were found preserved in amber, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Why it matters: "It throws up a combination of characters that initially seems alien to an arachnologist," paleobiologist Greg Edgecombe told the New York Times' Nicholas St. Fleur. It shows how diverse arachnids once were, and "presents some intriguing hints at how they evolved," writes Sarah Kaplan for The Washington Post.

The arachnid has the head of a spider, but the back-end looks like a scorpion's with legs. Like a scorpion, it has a long, whip-like tail. But the researchers think the tail didn't sting — it was probably more like an antenna. The not-spider also has spinerettes, similar to those modern spiders use to make silk.

Sound smart: The spiders' scientific name is Chimerarachne yingi. The chimera is a mythological monster with a lion's head, goat's body, and snake's tail. Arachne is the greek root for the word 'spider.' It's a fitting name for an animal that looks like a spiders' head with something else attached to the back.

Go deeper

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 19,571,989 — Total deaths: 726,781 — Total recoveries — 11,939,109Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 4,997,929 — Total deaths: 162,423 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats, and some Republicans, criticize the move
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans and Democrats react to Trump's coronavirus aid action

President Trump speaks to workers at a manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing President Trump Saturday night for taking executive action on coronavirus aid, with Democratic leaders demanding the GOP return to negotiations after stimulus package talks broke down a day earlier.

Why it matters: Trump could face legal challenges on his ability to act without congressional approval, where the power lies on federal spending. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was the most vocal Republican critic, saying in a statement: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."

Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.