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Aphonopelma seemanni - female - 2012-09-25.jpg
Female Aphonopelma seemanni
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Mygalomorphae
Family: Theraphosidae
Genus: Aphonopelma
Pocock, 1901[1]
Type species
Eurypelma seemanni
F. O. P.-Cambridge, 1897

See text.

61-87 species, depending on the source

Apachepelma Smith, 1995
Chaunopelma Chamberlin, 1940
Delopelma Petrunkevitch, 1939
Dugesiella Pocock, 1901
Gosipelma Chamberlin, 1940
Rhechostica Simon, 1892

Aphonopelma is a genus of tarantulas, members of which are native to the Americas. It includes nearly all of the North American tarantulas north of Mexico and a considerable part of the tarantulas which range into Central America. About 90 species have been described, but many, if not most, of these are inadequately studied and very little is known about them. Most are large and, like other New World tarantulas, they have urticating hairs. Most are docile in captivity. The taxonomy is poorly understood and species are difficult to tell apart, especially those that are brown or black without other pattern. In captivity they are usually fed crickets, in the wild they will eat most insects including crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, mantises, and beetles. Most species found in the Southwestern United States have an adult leg span of 4.5 inches (11.5 cm), though some Arizona species have been known, on occasion, to just barely exceed 6 inches (16 cm).

Among the species is Aphonopelma seemanni, which has striped legs and sometimes is called the zebra tarantula. As typical of spiders, this species produces silk from spinnerets on the abdomen, but it is also capable of producing a silk-like secretion from the feet that helps it gain traction.[2]


The genus has a complicated taxonomic history. It was erected in 1901 by Reginald I. Pocock when he split up Eurypelma (now Avicularia), with the type species Eurypelma seemanni. Pocock also separated off the genus Dugesiella. Two more new genera were later distinguished from Aphonopelma: Delopelma by Alexander Petrunkevitch in 1939 and Chaunopelma by Joseph C. Chamberlin in 1940. In 1985, Robert J. Raven reviewed mygalomorph genera and considered the differences among all these genera to be insignificant. He synonymized them under the name Rhechostica, which had been published by Eugène Simon in 1892, so had priority. Since the name Aphonopelma was much better known than Rechostica, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in 1991 agreed to give Aphonopelma precedence over Rhechostica. In 1995, Smith erected the genus Apachepelma for the species A. paloma; in 1997, Prentice transferred it back to Aphonopelma.[3]


Molecular phylogenetic studies suggest that the genus is not monophyletic. There appear to be two groups of species: one from Central America, including the type species A. seemanni from Costa Rica, and another made up of species found in the United States. The relationship between the two groups and the genus Sericopelma is shown in the cladogram below. It is likely that with further research a new genus will be needed for the American group of species.[3]

 Aphonopelma species from Central America


Aphonopelma species from the US


As of February 2016, the World Spider Catalog accepted 87 species.[1] A monograph of the genus within the United States, published in 2016, made some major revisions. Only 15 of the original 55 US species were fully accepted, 33 being reduced to synonyms and 7 to nomina dubia (doubtful names). A further 14 new US species were then described.[3] These revisions are shown in the following list.


  1. ^ a b "Aphonopelma Pocock, 1901", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved  
  2. ^ Gorb, SN; Niederegger S; Hayashi CY; Summers AP; Votsch W; Walther P (Sep 28, 2006). "Biomaterials: silk-like secretion from tarantula feet". Nature. 443 (7110): 407. doi:10.1038/443407a. PMID 17006505. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb Hamilton, C.A.; Hendrixson, B.E. & Bond, J.E. (2016), "Taxonomic revision of the tarantula genus Aphonopelma Pocock, 1901 (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae) within the United States", ZooKeys, 560: 1-340, doi:10.3897/zookeys.560.6264, PMC 4768370 Freely accessible, PMID 27006611 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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