Temporal range: Triassic–present
|Nephila inaurata (Nephilidae)|
see Table of families
The Araneomorphae (also called the Labidognatha) are an infraorder of spiders. They are distinguished by having chelicerae (fangs) that point diagonally forward and cross in a pinching action, in contrast to the Mygalomorphae (tarantulas and their close kin), where they point straight down. Most of the spiders that people encounter in daily life belong to the Araneomorphae.
Note the difference in the orientations of the chelicerae (fangs) of the two spiders below, representatives of the Mygalomorphae and the Araneomorphae. The number of book-lungs (when present) can also help distinguish between members of these two major groups.
This Atrax robustus (a member of the Hexathelidae) is presenting a defensive posture, and by so doing clearly shows the orientation of its chelicerae, which go up and down and parallel to the long axis of the spider's body, as with other representatives of the Mygalomorphae.
In the Araneomorphae, the fangs slope towards each other, giving these spiders many more possibilities than the Mygalomorphae, which can only bite top down. In contrast to the Mygalomorphae, where females can live for many years, most Araneomorphae die after about a year.
Almost all of the familiar spiders are included in this group. The major exception is the Tarantulas, which have become so common as pets that many people have seen them. There are a few other members of Mygalomorphae that one might see around homes or gardens, but they typically are relatively small and not easily noticed. For instance, the females of one such species lives and hunts from within a long silken tube, so unless one opens the tube or chances upon a male looking for a mate, one will never see them. The Araneomorphae, to the contrary, include the weavers of spiral webs, the cobweb spiders that live in the corners of our rooms and between windows and screens, the crab spiders that lurk on the surfaces of the flowers in our gardens, the jumping spiders that look back at us curiously from walls and tree trunks, the wolf spiders that sometimes carpet good hunting sites in a sunny spot in the lawn, the large Huntsman spiders that sometimes frighten people by getting into their cars or taking up residence behind wall clocks.
In older schemes, the Araneomorphae are divided into two lineages, the Hypochilae (containing only the family Hypochilidae), and the Neocribellatae. The Neocribellatae are in turn divided into the Austrochiloidea, and the two series Entelogynae and Haplogynae, each containing several superfamilies:
Most spiders in the Haplogynae series have six eyes, while most of those in the Entelegynae series have eight.
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