The mygalomorph spider family Dipluridae (funnel-web spiders) includes 179 described species (Platnick 2013); most species are tropical, but five occur in North America north of Mexico (Coyle 2005; Bradley 2013). The family is perhaps best known for the dangerously venomous Sydney Funnel-web Spider (Atrax robustus) of Australia (Bradley 2013).
The two genera in the United States are found in the southwestern United States (Euagrus) and in the southern Appalachians and Pacific Northwest (Microhexura). Euagrus spiders are among the most common mygalomorphs in Mexico and Central America, with three species occurring in North America north of Mexico. Microhexura includes just two species (see below). Spiders in both genera build ground webs composed of flattened, often branching, tubular retreat passages connected to small, irregular sheets. These webs are often hidden under objects or in soft, porous organic substrates. Euagrus prefers riparian, woodland, and forest habitats. Euagrus webs are typically found beneath rocks, but inconspicuous irregular funnels and sheets often extend into surrounding leaf litter. Microhexura montivaga, a federally listed endangered species in the United States, is restricted to remnant patches of fir forest on a few high peaks in the southern Appalachian Mountains, where it lives almost exclusively under moss mats on rock outcrops. The other Microhexura species, M. idahoana, is widespread in Pacific Northwest conifer forests, where its webs are often common in or under rotting logs and other organic debris. (Coyle 2005) More information on the natural history of Microhexura can be found in Coyle (1981, 1985). Information on Euagrus can be found in Coyle (1988).
Diplurids have only four spinnerets, having lost the anterior pair. The median spinnerets have one short segment. The posterior spinnerets are long, widely spaced, and conspicuous. (Bradley 2013)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:23
Specimens with Barcodes:20
Species With Barcodes:6
Funnel-web tarantulas (superfamily Dipluroidea, family Dipluridae), are a group of spiders in the infraorder Mygalomorphae, that have two pairs of booklungs, and chelicerae (fangs) that move up and down in a stabbing motion. A number of genera, including that of the Sydney funnel-web spider (Atrax), used to be classified in this family but have now been moved to Hexathelidae.
Dipluridae lack a rastellum (stout conical spines) on their chelicerae. Their carapace is characterized by the head region not being higher than the thoracic region. Their posterior median spinnerets (silk-extruding organs) are much shorter than their posterior lateral spinnerets, which have three segments, and are elongated (almost as long as their opisthosoma). Most of the species are medium to small-sized spiders, with some, such as the endangered Microhexura montivaga, as small as 3 mm, while others may measure about 15 mm. The cave species Masteria caeca is eyeless.
Members of this family often build rather messy funnel-webs. Some build silk-lined burrows instead of webs (Diplura, Trechona, some Linothele sp.). They generally build their retreats in crevices in earthen banks, the bark of trees, under logs or in leaf litter.
Dipluridae occur almost worldwide in the tropics. Most are found in Central and South America, and many occur in the Australian region. Indothele is found in India and Sri Lanka. Ischnothele is a neotropical genus, but one species occurs only in India. Several genera are found in Africa, with Thelechoris also occurring in Madagascar. Leptothele and Phyxioschema suthepium are endemic to Thailand, with the other Phyxioschema species found in Central Asia. Masteria is widely distributed, with species found in places such as Central America, Fiji, the Philippines, Queensland and New Guinea.
Diplurids can be very common in banks and road cuts, such as in Trinidad.
There is no proper proof on the toxicity of their venom, but it is probably wise to avoid direct contact with the larger members (Diplura sp., Harmonicon sp., Linothele sp., and Trechona sp.).
The grouping into subfamilies follows Raven, R. J. (1985a), and Coyle, F. A. (1984, 1986, 1988, 1995):
- † Clostes priscus (Menge, 1869)
- Euagrinae Raven, 1979
- † Cretadiplura Selden, 2005 — fossil, Early Cretaceous
- † Cretadiplura ceara Selden, 2005
- † Dinodiplura Selden, 2005 — fossil, Lower Cretaceous
- † Dinodiplura ambulacra Selden, 2005
- † Seldischnoplura Raven, Jell & Knezour, 2015 — fossil, Early Cretaceous
- † Seldischnoplura seldeni Raven, Jell & Knezour, 2015
- Allothele Tucker, 1920 — Africa
- Australothele Raven, 1984 — Australia
- Caledothele Raven, 1991 — Australia
- Carrai Raven, 1984 — New South Wales
- Cethegus Thorell, 1881 — Australia
- Euagrus Ausserer, 1875 — Southern USA to Costa Rica, South Africa, Taiwan
- Microhexura Crosby & Bishop, 1925 — USA
- Namirea Raven, 1984 — Australia
- Phyxioschema Simon, 1889 — Central Asia
- Stenygrocercus Simon, 1892 — New Caledonia
- † Cretadiplura Selden, 2005 — fossil, Early Cretaceous
- Ischnothelinae F. O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1897
- Masteriinae Simon, 1889
- Robert J. Raven, Peter A. Jell and Robert A. Knezour (2015). "Edwa maryae gen. et sp. nov. in the Norian Blackstone Formation of the Ipswich Basin—the first Triassic spider (Mygalomorphae) from Australia". Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology. in press. doi:10.1080/03115518.2015.993300.
- Raven, R.J. (1985). "The spider Infraorder Mygalomorphae (Araneae): cladistics and systematics". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 182: 1–180.
- Murphy & Murphy 2000
- Platnick 2008
- Murphy, Frances & Murphy, John (2000): An Introduction to the Spiders of South East Asia. Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur.
- Platnick, Norman I. (2008): The world spider catalog, version 8.5. American Museum of Natural History.
- Chickering, A. M. (1964): Two new species of the genus Accola (Araneae, Dipluridae). Psyche 71: 174-180. PDF
- Coyle, F. A. (1986): Chilehexops, a new funnelweb mygalomorph spider genus from Chile (Araneae, Dipluridae). Am. Mus. Novit. 2860: 1-10. PDF
- Goloboff, Pablo A. (1994): Linothele cavicola, a new Diplurinae spider (Araneae, Dipluridae) from the caves in Ecuador. J. Arachnol. 22: 70-72. PDF
- Selden, P.A., da Costa Casado, F. & Vianna Mesquita, M. (2005): Mygalomorph spiders (Araneae: Dipluridae) from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Lagerstätte, Araripe Basin, North-east Brazil. Palaeontology 49(4): 817-826. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2006.00561.x
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