|Female Hexathele hochstetteri|
|6 extant genera, 45 species|
Hexathelidae is a family of mygalomorph spiders. It is one of a number of families and genera of spiders known as funnel-web spiders. In 2018, the family was substantially reduced in size by genera being moved to three separate families: Atracidae, Macrothelidae and Porrhothelidae. Atracidae includes the most venomous species formerly placed in Hexathelidae.
These spiders are medium to large in size, with body lengths ranging from 1 to 5 cm (0.5 to 2 in). The body is typically three times longer than it is wide. They are darkly colored, ranging from black to brown, with a glossy carapace covering the front part of the body. Like the related diplurid spiders, the hexathelids have generally long spinnerets.
Like other Mygalomorphae (also called the Orthognatha, an infraorder of spiders which includes the true tarantulas), these spiders have fangs which point straight down and do not cross each other (see also Araneomorphae). They have ample venom glands that lie entirely within their chelicerae. Their chelicerae and fangs are large and powerful.
A molecular phylogenetic study in 2018 showed that Hexathelidae, as then circumscribed, was not monophyletic and hence split off genera into the new families Atracidae, Macrothelidae and Porrhothelidae. The following cladogram shows the relationships found between these families (former Hexathelidae families marked with boxes).
- Bymainiella Raven, 1978 – Australia (New South Wales, Queensland)
- Hexathele Ausserer, 1871 – New Zealand
- Mediothele Raven & Platnick, 1978 – Chile
- Paraembolides Raven, 1980 – Australia (Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland)
- Plesiothele Raven, 1978 – Australia (Tasmania)
- Scotinoecus Simon, 1892 – Argentina, Chile
- Teranodes Raven, 1985 – Australia (Tasmania, Victoria)
One extinct genus is also known.
Formerly placed here
As of May 2018[update], some genera formerly placed in Hexathelidae have been moved to other families:
- Porrhothele Simon, 1892 — New Zealand
Distribution and habitat
Hexathelids typically live in burrows, which are constructed in the ground or in tree hollows. An elaborately constructed burrow entrance is common. These spiders construct a funnel-shaped web and lurk for prey in the small end of the funnel. They frequently search for a place to nest under human dwellings, or under nearby rocks, logs, or other similar objects. They are most active at night. Some build in rainforest, both in the soil and in hollows on trees; others build entirely in sand, e.g., Fraser Island, southeastern Queensland. In Australia, these spiders tend to prefer cooler climates, hence are found primarily in rainforest.
- "Family: Hexathelidae Simon, 1892", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 2018-05-25
- Raven, R.J. (1980), "The evolution and biogeography of the mygalomorph spider family Hexathelidae (Araneae, Chelicerata)", Journal of Arachnology, 8: 251–266
- Hedin, M.; Derkarabetian, S.; Ramírez, M.J.; Vink, C. & Bond, J.E. (2018), "Phylogenomic reclassification of the world's most venomous spiders (Mygalomorphae, Atracinae), with implications for venom evolution", Scientific Reports, 8 (1636): 1–7, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-19946-2
- "Family Atracidae Hogg,1901", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 2018-05-15
- "Family Macrothelidae Simon, 1892", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 2018-05-15
- "Family Porrhothelidae Hedin, Derkarabetian, Ramírez, Vink & Bond, 2018", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 2018-05-15
- Gray, M.R. (1987), "Distribution of the funnel web spiders", in Covacevich, J.; Davie, P.; Pearn, J., Toxic plants and animals: A guide for Australia, Brisbane: Queensland Museum, pp. 312–321
- Raven, R.J. & Platnick, N.I. (1978): A new genus of the spider family Dipluridae from Chile (Araneae, Mygalomorphae). J. Arachnol. 6: 73-77. PDF (Mediothele, now in Hexathelidae)
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