A winged spider? That’s a new one. It was sent in by billschannel viewer Mr. ZombZomb 115 with a familiar question I hear a lot around here. Is this real or fake? Well, Mr Zombzomb, spiders are only very, very distantly related to any animals possessing wings — but apparently belief in the existence of such a winged spider has spread across the internet as the result of that image you sent me. Is the spider real? No — it’s a fake.
The photo is essentially just a doctored image of a spider — with wings added, and done up to look like it’s an article in an old, faded newspaper clipping. Here is the photo the hoax was based on. Look Ma, no wings!
Undoctored photo of common fishing spider (Dolomedes sp) Image Credit: Snopes.com
As was reported in Planetsave, “Arachnids (and hence spiders) separated from their relatively close relatives the insects several hundred million years ago — well before wings and flight first developed in insect species. The only way then that there could be a winged spider is if wings evolved completely independently in spiders — in which case there would likely be many species of winged spiders, and they would be very known. Perhaps more important than any of that though is the fact that the ecological niches that almost all spiders fill would have no use of flight — most spider species are extremely successful ambush predators which rely on traps, deception, and complex strategies, to catch their prey, there wouldn’t be much purpose to the addition of wings.”