The skeleton tarantula, Ephebopus murinus, is a species of spider belonging to the family Theraphosidae (tarantulas), sub-family Aviculariinae. A New World species, it is native to several South American countries. Its common name is derived from the skeleton-like markings on its legs.
The species was first described by Charles Athanase Walckenaer in 1837 as Mygale murina. In 1892, Eugène Simon placed it in his genus Ephebopus. Frederick Octavius Pickard-Cambridge described it as Santaremia pococki in 1896 (creating a new genus). Later Reginald Innes Pocock (1903) synonymised S. pococki with E. murinus, which remains the species' accepted scientific name to date.
The adult E. murinus usually grows to a leg span of about 11–12 cm (4.5 inches), though females can grow as large as 15 cm (6 inches).
Habitat and distribution
Unlike most members of the subfamily Aviculariinae, which are arboreal, E. murinus lives mainly on or near the forest floor, where it will build a heavily-webbed burrow beneath the topsoil or amongst branches, rocks, and other forest floor debris.
As a defense against potential predators, and in common with many other New World tarantulas, the species of the Ephebopus genus will brush urticating hairs from their bodies. Uniquely, rather than being located on the abdomen, Ephebopus urticating hairs are located on the spider's palps - on the medial side of the palpal femora; the spider sheds these hairs by rubbing the palp against the chelicerae.
E. murinus is also a fast and aggressive species, and will readily rise up and present its fangs to a potential predator.
In common with most terrestrial tarantula species, Ephobopus murinus feeds on ground-dwelling insects, worms and small mammals.
- "Taxon details Ephebopus murinus (Walckenaer, 1837)". World Spider Catalog. Natural History Museum Bern. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
- Walckenaer, C. A. (1837). "Histoire naturelle des insectes". 1. Paris: Aptères: 1–682.
- Simon, E. (1892). "Histoire naturelle des araignées". 1. Paris: 1–256.
- Pickard-Cambridge, F. O. (1896). "On the Theraphosidae of the lower Amazons: being an account of the new genera and species of this group of spiders discovered during the expedition of the steamship "Faraday" up the river Amazons". Proc. zool. Soc. London. 1896: 81–115.
- Pocock, R. I. (1903). "On some genera and species of South American Aviculariidae". Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist.. 7. 11: 81–115. doi:10.1080/00222930308678729.
- Beechhold, H. F. (2009). "A Key to the Pronunciation and Meaning of Scientific Names of Popular Species". American Tarantula Society, Forum, vol=6, issues 4,5. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
- "Skeleton Tarantula Ephebopus murinus". Retrieved 2010-10-23.
- Foelix, R., Rast, B., Erb, B. (2009). "Palpal urticating hairs in the tarantula Ephebopus: fine structure and mechanism of release". The Journal of Arachnology. 37: 292–298. doi:10.1636/sh08-106.1.
- Bertani; Vuolo Marques (1996). "Defensive behaviors in Mygalomorph spiders: Release of urticating hairs by some Aviculariinae (Araneae, Theraphosidae)". Zoologischer Anzeiger. 234: 161–163. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Samuel D. Marshall (2001), Tarantulas and other arachnids, p. 71, ISBN 978-0-7641-1463-2,
Skeleton tarantulas are so-called due to lengthwise striping on the legs, ... They are very aggressive ...