The Dalian Natural History Museum in China purchased the "spider" from a local who unearthed it, then published a description of the creature as a new species called Mongolarachne chaoyangensis. The strange fossil was not only huge. Its legs, eyes and body segments didn't look quite right.
Selden's colleagues in Beijing arranged for the paleontologist to take a closer look. "I realized what happened was I got a very badly preserved crayfish onto which someone had painted on some legs," Selden said in a release from the University of Kansas on Thursday.