Monday, June 15, 2020

[Arachnida • 2020] Thunberga gen. nov. • A New Genus of Huntsman Spiders (Araneae: Sparassidae: Heteropodinae) from Madagascar

Thunberga sp.
Jäger, 2020.

A new genus of the family Sparassidae is described from Madagascar: Thunberga gen. nov. It can be distinguished from other genera of the Heteropodinae by its different cheliceral dentition and eye arrangement as well as by its uniquely dotted prosoma. Four species are transferred to the new genus: T. hildebrandti (Järvi, 1912) comb. nov. (from Rhitymna Simon, 1897a), T. malagassa (Strand, 1907) comb. nov. (from Olios Walckenaer, 1837), T. nossibeensis (Strand, 1907) comb. nov. (from Olios), T. septifer (Strand. 1908) comb. nov. (from Olios, elevated to species rank). T. hildebrandti comb. nov. is recognised as junior synonym of T. nossibeensis comb. nov. One species is described for the first time: Thunberga greta spec. nov. (female, Madagascar). The systematic placement within the family and the character “anterior epigynal pocket” are discussed.

Keywords: Araneae, Taxonomy, systematics, copulatory organs, transfers, first description, Africa

Thunberga nossibeensis – the type and by far the largest species of the entire genus.
photo: Rémy Eudeline. 

Thunberga gen. nov. 

Type species. Thunberga nossibeensis (Strand, 1907) comb. nov. 

Etymology. Named after Greta Thunberg (*2003 in Sweden), a young and courageous climate activist fighting against global warming, ignorant stakeholders and for a better future on our planet. In fact, global warming and other issues caused by humans affect all parts of the nature including Madagascar’s nature in general and its spider fauna in particular. Gender is feminine.

Species included. Thunberga greta spec. nov., T. malagassa (Strand, 1907) comb. nov., T. nossibeensis (Strand, 1907) comb. nov., T. septifer (Strand, 1908) comb. nov.

 Natural History. Nothing is known so far about the natural history of species of this new genus. No information on labels were available either. Roger (2018: fig. 20d) published a photo of a spider most likely belonging to Thunberga gen. nov. If so, it might well be that those spiders are nocturnal hunters in the foliage (Roger mentions ylang-ylang trees in Combani). 

Distribution. Madagascar and neighbouring islands (St. Marie, Nosy Be) (Fig. 47), most likely occurring also on Mayotte (see Roger 2018: fig. 20d).

Peter Jäger. 2020. Thunberga gen. nov., A New Genus of Huntsman Spiders from Madagascar (Araneae: Sparassidae: Heteropodinae). Zootaxa. 4790(2); 245–260. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4790.2.3
A spider named Greta 
New species of spiders described in honour of Swedish climate activist