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      Early Cretaceous spider web with its prey.

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      Science (New York, N.Y.)

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          Abstract

          The orb web is a spectacular evolutionary innovation that enables spiders to catch flying prey. This elegant, geometric structure is woven with silk fibers that are renowned for their superior mechanical properties. We used silk gland expression libraries to address a long-standing controversy concerning the evolution of the orb-web architecture. Contrary to the view that the orb-web design evolved multiple times, we found that the distribution and phylogeny of silk proteins support a single, ancient origin of the orb web at least 136 million years ago. Furthermore, we substantially expanded the repository of silk sequences that can be used for the synthesis of high-performance biomaterials.

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          Author and article information

          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Entomology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024, USA.
          Journal
          Science
          Science (New York, N.Y.)
          1095-9203
          0036-8075
          Jun 23 2006
          : 312
          : 5781
          312/5781/1761
          10.1126/science.1126628
          16794072

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