Sunday, 22 March 2015

Creature 173: Archaeidae

This spider only eats other spiders.
Archaeidae are a family of spiders which are commonly known as assassin spiders or pelican spiders.

Their fangs (actually Chelicera) have been grossly elongate and there is a large neck like elongation on their cephalothorax which give them their weird pelican like look. These adaptions are specifically designed to give then a fast strike with a long reach, a huge advantage when they are hunting the particular prey that they specialize on. The victims of these bizarre species are, in fact, other spiders. They hunt other spiders by following the web trails that spiders leave behind as they walk around. They are able to move across the web of other spiders without being detected or to pluck the web to coax the other spider to attack them. They impale their prey on one of their massive fangs and let them slowly die on the end of the fang before they eat them.

Archaeidae are found in South Africa, Madagascar in various disjunct regions of Australia. They are an ancient taxon with the fossil record going back to 40 million years age, and the age of the group probably going back much further than that.


The family Archaeidae only contains 4 genera and  about 20 known species.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Archaeidae

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