Archive for the ‘Spider News in North America’ Category

We present a mtDNA gene tree of tarantula spiders (Araneae: Mygalomorphae: Theraphosidae) based on the mitochondrial 16S-tRNA (leu)-ND1 gene region as a promising initial molecular hypothesis to clarify the taxonomy of the largest subfamily, Theraphosinae. Many species of this New World subfamily are traded widely as exotic pets, yet few scientific studies on them exist, and the robustness of many supposed taxonomic groupings is debatable. Yet the validity of taxon names and knowledge of their distinctiveness is vital for trade regulation, most notably for the Neotropical genus Brachypelma Simon 1891, which is listed under CITES (Appendix II, see online supplemental material, which is available from the article’s Taylor & Francis Online page at The use of molecular markers for tarantula taxonomy has been limited until recently, with most previous studies relying on morphological methods. Our findings, from newly collected molecular data, have several nomenclatural implications, suggesting a need for a rigorous overhaul of Theraphosinae classification at multiple hierarchical levels. Here, we take steps toward a revised classification, favouring division of Theraphosinae into three tribes: the Theraphosini trib. nov., the Hapalopini trib. nov., and the Grammostolini trib. nov. We also make conservation recommendations for two non-monophyletic genera. Firstly, we recover Aphonopelma Pocock 1901 as polyphyletic, finding that the large radiation into the USA and Mexico is taxonomically distinct from at least three other lineages distributed throughout Central America, one of which includes the type species of the genus. Secondly, and importantly for conservation, we find diphyly in the CITES listed genus Brachypelma Simon 1891, where our data strongly favour a division into two distinct smaller genera. We consider only the lineage with endemics in the Pacific coastal zone of Mexico to be of conservation concern. Finally, we also make suggestions on the future direction of revisionary research for the Theraphosidae as a whole.

Medical application in scorpion’s venom?A team of Mexican biotechnology researchers has identified a molecule in scorpion venom that could serve both as an aid in antibiotic delivery and as a bactericide disinfectant

Medical application in scorpion’s venom?

Mexican red-kneed tarantulas of the genus Brachypelma are regarded as some of the most desirable invertebrate pets, and although bred in captivity, they continue to be smuggled out of the wild in large numbers. Species are often difficult to identify based solely on morphology, therefore prompt and accurate identification is required for adequate protection. Thus, we explored the applicability of using COI-based DNA barcoding as a complementary identification tool. Brachypelma smithi (F. O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1897) and Brachypelma hamorii Tesmongt, Cleton & Verdez, 1997 are redescribed, and their morphological differences defined. Brachypelma annitha is proposed as a new synonym of B. smithi. The current distribution of red-kneed tarantulas shows that the Balsas River basin may act as a geographical barrier. Morphological and molecular evidence are concordant and together provide robust hypotheses for delimiting Mexican red-kneed tarantula species. DNA barcoding of these tarantulas is further shown to be useful for species-level identification and for potentially preventing black market trade in these spiders. As a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listing does not protect habitat, or control wildlife management or human interactions with organisms, it is important to support environmental conservation activities to provide an alternative income for local communities and to avoid damage to wildlife populations.

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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.

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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.