Southern African Spiders

About spiders


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Spiders are found on every continent of the earth except for Antarctica. As at the date of the last updating of this page the World Spider Catalogue (WSC)1 listed 49 073 recognised species in 4 205 genera and 128 families.2 In South Africa "[a]ll of the species listed on the National Species list are being evaluated again and the present numbers of spiders known from South Africa are 72 families, 480 genera and 2244 species".3

"Spiders are abundant, generalist predators that play dominant roles in almost every terrestrial ecosystem. The order represents an ancient group that has continued to diversify taxonomically and ecologically since the Devonian (>380 mya)"4.

Spiders are classified as an order within the Arachnids alongside the other extant orders i.e. the Scorpions, Pseudo-Scorpions, Solifugids (romans), Amblypigids, Acarids (ticks and mites), Opilionids (harvestmen), Ricinuleids, Palpigradi (microwhip scorpions), Shizomida (shorttailed whipscorpions), Thelyphonida (vinegaroons), and Xiphosurida (horseshoe crabs).



Palystes superciliosus female ventral annotation numbers

Dorsum: Palystes castaneus female dorsal aspect 1: pedipalp 2: trichobothria 3: carapace of prosoma (cephalothorax) 4: opisthosoma (abdomen) 5: eyes – AL (anterior lateral) AM (anterior median) PL (posterior lateral) PM (posterior median) Leg segments: 6: coxa 7: trochanter 8: femur 9: patella 10: tibia 11: metatarsus 12: tarsus 13: claw 14: chelicera. Ventrum: Nos 1 to 14 as for dorsal aspect 15: sternum of prosoma 16: pedicel (also called pedicle) 17: book lung sac 18: book lung stigma 19: epigastric fold 20: epigyne 21: anterior spinneret 22: posterior spinneret I, II, III, IV=Leg numbers from anterior to posterior

  Spider internal anatomy-en

Spider Internal Anatomy.
Source: Reproduced under Wikimedia Commons Licence.


  2. Click here for a short explanation of biological classification and the binomial system.
  3. SANSA News 36 ARC- LNR,, retrieved 05 January 2021.
  4. Garrison, NL et al: Spider phylogenomics: untangling the Spider Tree of Life - - retrieved 27 April 2020.