Chickering, Arthur M. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:April 2021
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A natural order of the class Arachnida, commonly known as the spiders. Members of the order Araneae (also called Araneida)—the spiders (Fig. 1)—are widespread over most of the land areas of the world and are well adapted to many different habitats. More than 49,000 extant species of spiders have been identified. These animals constitute one of the oldest of all groups of arthropods, and their remains are known from Devonian and Carboniferous geological deposits. Through successive geological periods, spiders have become adapted to insects as their chief sources of food. On the other hand, certain insects consume the eggs of spiders, other insects parasitize the eggs of spiders, and still other insects capture spiders and place them in their nests for food for their young. See also: Arachnida; Arthropoda; Insecta
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