Comprehensive Description

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Genus Dolichognatha O.P.-Cambridge 1869

Dolichognatha O.P.-Cambridge 1869: 387; type species D. nietneri O.P.-Cambridge 1869, by monotypy. Not examined.

Landana Simon 1884: 185; type species L. petiti Simon 1884, by monotypy. Not examined.

Paraebius Thorell 1894: 43; type species P. mandibularis Thorell 1894, by monotypy. Examined.

Homalopoltys Simon 1895: 893; type species H. incanescens Simon 1895, by original designation. Examined. NEW SYNONYMY

Prolochus Thorell 1895: 122; type species P. longiceps Thorell 1895, by monotypy. Not examined.

NicholasiaBryant & Archer 1940: 60; type species Epeira pentagona Hentz 1850 by monotypy. Not examined.

Afiamalu Marples 1955: 495; type species A. richardi Marples 1955 by monotypy. Not examined.

Update on type repositories listed by Levi (1981). The type of D. nietneri is not catalogued in BMNH (J. Beccaloni, pers. comm.), the repository given by Levi (1981). Instead this type is likely to be in OUM where six O.P.-Cambridge specimens are catalogued under this name (J. Hogan, pers. comm.). In addition to the syntype of Prolochus longiceps in NHRM (T. Kronestedt, pers. comm.) (stated to be the holotype in Levi 1981) there is a vial of syntype material in BMNH . Syntypes and paratypes of Afiamalu richardi are in BMNH (information not given by Levi). Types of both Homalopoltys species are in MNHNP .

Diagnosis . All currently recognised Dolichognatha have large anterior median eyes, which are prominent on a slight tubercle (Brescovit & Cunha 2001), a distinctively shaped carapace, with sides often subparallel in the caput region and evenly rounded posteriorly (Levi 1981), and in males, long to very long chelicerae with enlarged cheliceral teeth distally (Levi 1981, Brescovit & Cunha 2001). The male palpal patella is without macrosetae. The male palp has a ‘metine’ embolic apophysis (sensu Hormiga et al. 1995), a prominent paracymbium and procurved cymbial basal process (secondary process of Hormiga et al. 1995; Kuntner & Alvarez-Padilla 2006). The abdomen of Dolichognatha s.str. bears two pairs of posterodorsal humps, but the abdominal shape may be otherwise in some Dolichognatha s.l., including those described herein. Reflective tapeta are absent from all the secondary eyes of Dolichognatha s.str. (Levi 1981; Tanikawa 1991), but again may be present in other Dolichognatha .

Biology. Species of Dolichognatha make orb webs, which are always horizontal or slope less than 45 degrees to horizontal (Levi 1981, F. Alvarez-Padilla pers. comm.). Levi (1981) reports that all the species he observed made similar webs, which were often “messy” , between buttress roots at the base of large trees in relatively moist, dark forests; the collection data of some further specimens listed in the Appendix agree with this description. Whilst all specimens in this present study were collected in tropical forests, many were taken from foliage and by canopy fogging, a departure from the web position just above the ground suggested by all previous records. In all the collection data for the species treated here there is only one mention of a web: a report of D. albida specimens being found in a horizontal sheet web between leaves. Regarding such web structure, Simon (1894: 743) reported that the web of the D. nietneri he observed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was a horizontal sheet, a claim which was discounted by Levi (1981). David Court (pers. comm.) reports that the webs of a Dolichognatha sp. he has observed in Singapore may look like a sheet when damaged; this interpretation, at least for Simon’s specimens, seems likely as the specimens collected by Simon in Sri Lanka are in MNHNP , and are Dolichognatha s.str. (from photographs supplied by F. Alvarez-Padilla). The report of a sheet web in D. albida therefore requires confirmation.

Levi (1981) reported that Dolichognatha may include a line of debris and egg sacs in the web, or hanging nearby. Simon (1894) reported (in translation): "The D. nietneri that I have observed from Ceylon lays its egg cocoons in a cylindrical truncated sleeve of thick sticky silk suspended from two divergent lines near its web." These sources are the only published references to Dolichognatha biology I have seen.


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