Archive for the ‘Spider News in North America’ Category

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Summary:  Genus Graemeloweus, gen. nov. (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) is described from northern California, USA. The genus is composed of three species formerly placed in Pseudouroctonus: Graemeloweus iviei (Gertsch et Soleglad, 1972), comb. nov. (type species), G. glimmei (Hjelle, 1972), comb. nov., and G. maidu (Savary et Bryson, 2016), comb. nov. Major diagnostic characters of Graemeloweus include a non-bifurcated primary lamellar hook, the presence of a secondary lamellar hook, a complex mating plug with a two part base and an asymmetric crescent-shape barb, and the presence of a well-developed ventromedian (V2) carina on the pedipalp chela. Evidence is presented suggesting that Graemeloweus is more closely related to Kovarikia than Pseudouroctonus.

Note:  See


Four distinct genera, forming two monophyletic groups, are basal in the phylogeny of the North American vaejovid scorpion subfamily Syntropinae Kraepelin, 1905: Konetontli González-Santillán and Prendini, 2013; Maaykuyak González-Santillán and Prendini, 2013; Syntropis Kraepelin, 1900; and Vizcaino González-Santillán and Prendini, 2013. All except the species of Konetontli, treated elsewhere, are revised in the present contribution. The two species of Maaykuyak, three species of Syntropis, and monotypic Vizcaino are redescribed; the adults of Syntropis williamsi Soleglad et al., 2007, described for the first time; keys to identification of the species of Maaykuyak and Syntropis presented; and new locality records and updated distribution maps provided for all species covered.
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Two new species of the mexicanus group of Vaejovis C.L. Koch are described from the Madrean pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre Occidental in the state of Durango, Mexico. These species, Vaejovis sierrae sp. nov. and Vaejovis mcwesti sp. nov., are distinguished from each other and the only other species of the mexicanus group known from this mountain range, Vaejovis montanus Graham and Bryson, by morphometrics, carinal development of the pedipalps, granulation of the metasoma, and body size. A key to the species of the mexicanus group from the Sierra Madre

Sissom WD, Graham MR, Donaldson TG, Bryson Jr RW. Two new Vaejovis C.L. Koch 1836 from highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Durango, Mexico (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae). Insecta Mundi. 2016 (0477):1-14. [Open Access]

spider phylogenomics


Spiders (Order Araneae) are massively abundant generalist arthropod predators that are found in nearly every ecosystem on the planet and have persisted for over 380 million years. Spiders have long served as evolutionary models for studying complex mating and web spinning behaviors, key innovation and adaptive radiation hypotheses, and have been inspiration for important theories like sexual selection by female choice. Unfortunately, past major attempts to reconstruct spider phylogeny typically employing the “usual suspect” genes have been unable to produce a well-supported phylogenetic framework for the entire order. To further resolve spider evolutionary relationships we have assembled a transcriptome-based data set comprising 70 ingroup spider taxa. Using maximum likelihood and shortcut coalescence-based approaches, we analyze eight data sets, the largest of which contains 3,398 gene regions and 696,652 amino acid sites forming the largest phylogenomic analysis of spider relationships produced to date. Contrary to long held beliefs that the orb web is the crowning achievement of spider evolution, ancestral state reconstructions of web type support a phylogenetically ancient origin of the orb web, and diversification analyses show that the mostly ground-dwelling, web-less RTA clade diversified faster than orb weavers. Consistent with molecular dating estimates we report herein, this may reflect a major increase in biomass of non-flying insects during the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution 125–90 million years ago favoring diversification of spiders that feed on cursorial rather than flying prey. Our results also have major implications for our understanding of spider systematics. Phylogenomic analyses corroborate several well-accepted high level groupings: Opisthothele, Mygalomorphae, Atypoidina, Avicularoidea, Theraphosoidina, Araneomorphae, Entelegynae, Araneoidea, the RTA clade, Dionycha and the Lycosoidea. Alternatively, our results challenge the monophyly of Eresoidea, Orbiculariae, and Deinopoidea. The composition of the major paleocribellate and neocribellate clades, the basal divisions of Araneomorphae, appear to be falsified. Traditional Haplogynae is in need of revision, as our findings appear to support the newly conceived concept of Synspermiata. The sister pairing of filistatids with hypochilids implies that some peculiar features of each family may in fact be synapomorphic for the pair. Leptonetids now are seen as a possible sister group to the Entelegynae, illustrating possible intermediates in the evolution of the more complex entelegyne genitalic condition, spinning organs and respiratory organs.

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Great Article not relevant to North America but wonderful to the Americas in general.



Eight new species of Charinus Simon, 1892 are described for the Brazilian Amazon, from the states of Pará (C. bichuetteae sp. n., C. bonaldoi sp. n., C. carajas sp. n., C. ferreus sp. n., C.guto sp. n. and C. orientalis sp. n.) and Amazonas (Charinus brescoviti sp. n. and C. ricardoi sp. n.). All new species can be differentiated from the other species of the genus by the number of pseudo-articles in basitibia IV, the presence/absence of median eyes, and the shape of the female gonopod. Brazil now becomes the country with the largest diversity of Amblypygi in the world, with 25 known species. Half of the new species described here have a high degree of endangerment: C. bichuetteae sp. n. is threatened by the flood caused by the hydroelectric dam of Belo Monte, and C. carajas sp. n., C. ferreus sp. n. and C. orientalis sp. n. are endangered by the iron mining in Carajás municipality and surroundings. The Charinus species here described are endemic to the Amazon Region, so in order to assure their preservation, it is strongly recommended a special care with their habitats (type localities) which are facing increasing rates of destruction and deforestation.



johnny-cash-tarantula-2 (1)


This systematic study documents the taxonomy, diversity, and distribution of the tarantula spider genusAphonopelma Pocock, 1901 within the United States. By employing phylogenomic, morphological, and geospatial data, we evaluated all 55 nominal species in the United States to examine the evolutionary history of Aphonopelma and the group’s taxonomy by implementing an integrative approach to species delimitation. Based on our analyses, we now recognize only 29 distinct species in the United States. We propose 33 new synonymies (A. apacheum, A. minchi, A. rothi, A. schmidti, A. stahnkei = A. chalcodes; A.arnoldi = A. armada; A. behlei, A. vogelae = A. marxi; A. breenei = A. anax; A. chambersi, A. clarum, A.cryptethum, A. sandersoni, A. sullivani = A. eutylenum; A. clarki, A. coloradanum, A. echinum, A. gurleyi, A.harlingenum, A. odelli, A. waconum, A. wichitanum = A. hentzi; A. heterops = A. moderatum; A. jungi, A.punzoi = A. vorhiesi; A. brunnius, A. chamberlini, A. iviei, A. lithodomum, A. smithi, A. zionis = A. iodius; A.phanum, A. reversum = A. steindachneri), 14 new species (A. atomicumsp. n., A. catalinasp. n., A.chiricahuasp. n., A. icenogleisp. n., A. johnnycashisp. n., A. maderasp. n., A. marekisp. n., A. moellendorfisp. n., A. parvumsp. n., A. peloncillosp. n., A. prenticeisp. n., A. saguarosp. n., A. superstitionensesp. n., and A. xwalxwalsp. n.), and seven nomina dubia (A. baergi, A. cratium, A. hollyi, A. mordax, A. radinum, A.rusticum, A. texense). Our proposed species tree based on Anchored Enrichment data delimits five major lineages: a monotypic group confined to California, a western group, an eastern group, a group primarily distributed in high-elevation areas, and a group that comprises several miniaturized species. Multiple species are distributed throughout two biodiversity hotspots in the United States (i.e., California Floristic Province and Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands). Keys are provided for identification of both males and females. By conducting the most comprehensive sampling of a single theraphosid genus to date, this research significantly broadens the scope of prior molecular and morphological investigations, finally bringing a modern understanding of species delimitation in this dynamic and charismatic group of spiders.

Awesome …


See also the National Geographic article at

LiveScience review at


Camel spiders (Solifugae) are a diverse but poorly studied order of arachnids. No robust phylogenetic analysis has ever been carried out for the order or for any family within the Solifugae. We present a molecular phylogenetic analysis of the endemic North American family Eremobatidae Kraepelin, 1899, the first such analysis of a family of Solifugae. We use a multi-locus exemplar approach using DNA sequences from partial nuclear (28S rDNA and Histone H3) and mitochondrial (16S rRNA and Cytochrome c Oxidase I) gene loci for 81 ingroup exemplars representing all genera of Eremobatidae and most species groups within the genera Eremobates Banks, 1900, Eremochelis Roewer, 1934, andHemerotrecha Banks, 1903. Maximum Likelihood and two Bayesian analyses consistently recovered the monophyly of Eremobatidae, Eremorhax Roewer, 1934 andEremothera Muma, 1951 along with a group comprising all subfamily Eremobatinae Kraepelin, 1901 exemplars except Horribates bantai Muma, 1989 and a group comprising all Eremocosta Roewer, 1934 exemplars except Eremocosta acuitalpanensis (Vasquez and Gavin, 2000). The subfamily Therobatinae Muma, 1951 and the genera Chanbria Muma, 1951, Hemerotrecha, Eremochelis, and Eremobateswere polyphyletic or paraphyletic. Only the banksi group of Hemerotrecha was monophyletic; the other species groups recognized within Eremobates, Eremochelis, and Hemerotrecha were paraphyletic or polyphyletic. We found no support for the monophyly of the subfamily Therobatinae. A time-calibrated phylogeny dated the most recent common ancestor of extant eremobatids to the late Eocene to early Miocene, with a mean estimate in the late Oligocene (32.2 Ma)






Phylogeographical studies in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts often find genetic discontinuities that pre-date the Pleistocene. A recent synthesis of phylogeographical data, called the Mojave Assembly Model, provides a hypothesis for the historical assembly of these desert biotas but does not adequately capture the complexity of pre-Pleistocene vicariance events. We tested this model and assessed pre-Pleistocene divergences by exploring the phylogeography of theAphonopelma mojave group, which is composed of turret-building tarantula species from the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.


Mojave and Sonoran deserts, south-western USA.


We augmented the sampling from a previous study by sequencing mitochondrial DNA (COI) from new material of the A. mojave group. We used phylogenetic and network analyses to identify clades and a molecular clock and lineages-through-time plots (LTT plots) to explore the timing and tempo of diversification. We tested for demographic expansion using neutrality tests and mismatch distributions. Species distribution models (SDMs) were constructed to compare current suitable habitat to that at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).


Phylogenetic, network and molecular-clock analyses identified six major clades that probably diverged during the late Miocene. The rate of diversification appears to have slowed during the Pliocene. Most clades exhibit signals of recent demographic expansion. SDMs predicted that suitable habitat shifted south and to lower elevations during the LGM.

Main conclusions

Phylogeographical analyses suggest that the A. mojave group experienced a burst of diversification in the late Miocene, followed by population expansions during the Pleistocene. Six major clades with origins in the late Miocene cannot be adequately explained by the Mojave Assembly Model. We propose the novel hypothesis that Miocene extensional tectonics caused populations to diverge in allopatry by producing low-elevation habitat barriers. Geological models, such as kinematic reconstructions, provide an ideal but underutilized framework for testing biogeographical hypotheses in these deserts and the wider Basin and Range Province.

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See credits and all those involved in this segment for this trip and my colleague Kari McWest  for the Power Point.


Thank you Cesar for the picture in facebook and using it at UNAM.

I’m on the left, Oscar Francke and David Sissom