Priscula, SIMON, 1893

HUBER, BERNHARD A., 2000, New World Pholcid Spiders (Araneae: Pholcidae): A Revision At Generic Level, Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 2000 (254), pp. 1-348: 128-131

publication ID 10.1206/0003-0090(2000)254<0001:NWPSAP>2.0.CO;2

persistent identifier

treatment provided by


scientific name




Priscula Simon, 1893b: 477   478 (type species by original designation P. gularis Simon, 1893   ; examined). Brignoli, 1981: 95 96. González-Sponga, 1996: 124 128. Huber, 1997b: 598 599.

Blechroscelis Simon, 1893b: 479   483 (type species by original designation Pholcus annulipes Keyserling, 1877   ; examined). NEW SYNONYMY.

Hypsorinus Chamberlin, 1916: 224   (type species by original designation H. binghamae Chamberlin, 1916   ; examined). First synonymized by Huber et al. (1999).

JUSTIFICATION OF SYNONYMY: The type species of Blechroscelis   ( Pholcus annulipes Keyserling   ) is redescribed below, and is clearly congeneric with the type species of Priscula   ( P. gularis Simon   ) which is also redescribed below.

DIAGNOSIS: Large (total length ~ 3.5 7 mm), dark-colored pholcids. Distinguished from most other New World genera by their size and the higher-than-long opisthosoma; from Physocyclus   and Artema   by the single pair of frontal apophyses on the male chelicerae; from Ixchela   and Aymaria   by the male palp (absence of retrolateral coxal apophysis, distally enlarged femur, rather complex procursus with brush).

DESCRIPTION: Total length ~ 3.5 7 mm. Carapace with distinct thoracic groove, ocular area moderately elevated, usually with eight eyes (AME missing in P. ulai   Gonzá- lez-Sponga, salmeronica González-Sponga); if present, AME considerably smaller than others (e.g., figs. 495, 513); distance PME- ALE varying widely (~ 40 120% of PME diameter). Male clypeus unmodified. Posterior border of sternum either straight or produced into one or two lobes. Male chelicerae usually with pair of simple frontal apophyses distally, missing in P. limonensis   González- Sponga and lagunosa González-Sponga   ; without stridulatory ridges. Male palps (especially femur) large in relation to overall size; coxa without retrolateral apophysis, femur very strong, in some species with ventral sclerotized rim distally; procursus variable in shape, with complex distal system of apophyses, flaps, and membranous, hairlike structures (brush; e.g., figs. 508, 516, 525, etc.); bulb with spiraling, strong distal apophysis. Tarsal organ exposed, conspicuously elevated (examined: P. binghamae   , ulai   : fig. 96). Legs medium-long (leg 1 about 5 13 × body length), usually very strong (tibia 1 l/d: 23 63), leg 1 always longest, leg 2 usually longer than leg 4, leg 3 shortest; often with dark rings; legs without spines, sometimes with many curved hairs (on femora, tibiae, and metatarsi), and sometimes with several vertical hairs (never in high density); retrolateral trichobothrium of tibia 1 proximal (at 5 10%); cuticle of tarsus broken into many seemingly irregular plates (fig. 101). Opisthosoma higher than long, sometimes angular behind, dorsally with dark spots and often also white spots. Male gonopore without epiandrous spigots (examined: P. binghamae   , ulai   , one undescribed species: fig. 140). ALS with piriform gland spigots (about six; examined: P. binghamae   , ulai   , one undescribed species; figs. 166 167), oth- er spinnerets typical for family.

Sexual dimorphism slight; females with shorter legs, unmodified chelicerae, with greater variation in opisthosoma size. Epigynum simple dark sclerotized plate; internally with pair of roundish to oval dorsal pore plates, frontally with large valve.

MONOPHYLY: Although the genus is easily diagnosed, it is characterized primarily by plesiomorphies. The only synapomorphy seems to be the tarsal organ, which is exposed but situated on a high turret (fig. 96).

GENERIC RELATIONSHIPS: The genus shares with Physocyclus   and Artema   the brushlike element distally on the procursus, but this may be plesiomorphic (a synapomorphy of holocnemines). The general similarity between Physocyclus   and Priscula   led Brignoli (1981) to synonymize the two genera. This was not accepted by González-Sponga (1996) (who lists Brignoli s paper in the references, but never refers to it in the text), and criticized by Huber (1997b) on the basis that the two genera show some very consistent differences, and are geographically strictly apart. The cladistic analysis suggests that Priscula   is indeed close to Physocyclus   , but none of the synapomorphies is very compelling, while Artema   has a procursus very similar to that of Physocyclus   (see Characters Scored section above). The traditional separation of Physocyclus   and Priscula   is certainly more informative and is therefore maintained. Moreover, Priscula   shows some affinities to New World genera (e.g., the thoracic groove, reduction of epiandrous spigots, exposed tarsal organ), while Physocyclus   and Artema   rather have thoracic pits like the Old World Holocnemus   group. The phylogenetic position of Priscula   is thus regarded as still ambiguous.

NATURAL HISTORY: Simon (1893b: 478) gives the following brief account: sur les bambous... toile napiforme bombée, de tissu très lache... grand résceau irrégulier.

González-Sponga (1996) collected Priscula   mainly in shady areas close to the ground, under logs, leaves, and mosses. He reports the number of eggs in two egg sacs (60, 162).

DISTRIBUTION: Most known species are from high-altitude locations in the Andes, from northern Argentina to Venezuela (map 3). Priscula taruma   , n. sp., from Guyana presently marks the northeastern limit.

COMPOSITION: The genus includes 17 nominal species ( P. paeta Simon   is a nomen dubium: González-Sponga, 1996; Huber, 1997b). Four of the species recently described by González-Sponga (1996) were not available to me: P. lagunosa   , piedraensis   , limonensis   , salmeronica. The remaining 13 species are treated herein (six of them are newly described). Apart from that I have seen several additional species, mostly from northern Peru (in MUSM, CCR).

Pholcus tigrinus Taczanowski   , which Si- mon (1893b) thought was probablement a Priscula   , was originally described as resembling Pholcus phalangioides   , but with a more pointed opisthosoma, in contrast to the higher-than-long opisthosoma of Priscula   . I strongly suspect it to be a synonym of Smeringopus pallidus (Blackwall)   , based on Taczanowski s (1874) description of the belle figure on the opisthosoma: composée de 4 6 paires de taches obliques imitant une feuille pennée; this is a pattern typical for most species of Smeringopus   , and S. pallidus   is the only representative of the genus in the New World, and is a common synanthropic species. The type material (12 syntypes) is apparently lost. It was sent to Hamburg in 1974, but was apparently never returned (T. Huflejt, personal commun.).

Priscula gularis Simon, 1893  

Figures 495 View Figs 500

Priscula gularis Simon, 1893a: 319   . Simon, 1893b: 477 478, figs. 442(?), 449(?). Huber, 1997b: 595 597, figs. 17 19.

Physocyclus gularis: Brignoli, 1981: 94   97, figs. 8 10, 25.

TYPES: Male lectotype, 1♀ paralectotype from Quito , Ecuador   ; date and collector not given, in MNHN (9762), examined.

DIAGNOSIS: Distinguished from congeners primarily by the shape of the procursus with its distinctive distal spine (figs. 497 498), and by the shape of the bulbal apophysis (fig. 496).

MALE (Banos; for redescription of type material see Huber, 1997b): Total length 4.0, carapace width 2.0; leg 1: 35.3 (8.7+0.9 +9.3+14.1+2.3), tibia 2: 6.9, tibia 3: 5.1, tibia 4: 6.9; tibia 1 l/d: 45. Habitus similar to P. binghamae   (cf. fig. 501; see also figs. 17a b in Huber, 1997b); carapace ochre, darker median spot and lateral margins, with deep thoracic groove; ocular area brown, slightly higher than in P. binghamae   , eight eyes as in fig. 495; distance PME-ALE about 60% of PME diameter. Sternum ochre, brown-speckled at bases of legs and anteriorly, posterior border straight; chelicerae brown with pair of blackish frontal apophyses as in P. pallisteri   (cf. fig. 515, apophyses minimally thinner and more laterally; see also fig. 19a in Huber, 1997b). Palps in general as in P. binghamae   (cf. figs. 505 506), but femur distally with hardly protruding ventral rim, and procursus and bulb significantly different (figs. 496 498). Legs light brown, with darker rings on femora (subdistally) and tibiae (subproximally, subdistally); almost all hairs on legs missing; retrolateral trichobothrium of tibia 1 at 7%. Opisthosoma length 2.4, height 2.3, slightly angular, gray, dorsally covered with blackish spots and white dots in lines and bands; genital plate light brown.

VARIATION: Tibia 1 in second male from Banos: 9.7. Lectotype and males from Narigual significantly larger (tibia 1: 11.4 12.0), but genitalia not distinguishable in shape.

FEMALE: Tibia 1 (N = 5) 7.5 10.3 (x¯ = 8.8). In general very similar to male, but opisthosoma higher and more rounded. One female with dark rings also medially on tibiae. Epigynum as in fig. 500, light brown; dorsal view as in fig. 499.

DISTRIBUTION: Known only from Ecuador.

MATERIAL EXAMINED: ECUADOR: Quito : types above   ; Narigual, no further collection data, 33 2♀ 2 juveniles in MNHN (10289)   ; Banos, 1900 2000 m elev., Nov. 16 17, 1937 (W. Clarke-Macintyre), 23 2♀ 13 juveniles in AMNH. Banos, 1800 m elev., Aug. 10 22, 1937 (E. Brundage), 1♀ assigned tentatively, in USNM   .

Priscula binghamae (Chamberlin, 1916)   Figures 501 View Figs 512

Hypsorinus binghamae Chamberlin, 1916: 224   226, pl. 13: figs. 1 9, pl. 14: figs. 1 7.

Physocyclus binghamae: Brignoli, 1981: 97   , figs. 11 13, 19 20.

Crossopriza saltensis Mello-Leitao, 1941: 109   , pl. 7: fig. 7 (first synonymized by Huber et al., 1999)

Hypsorinus conwayi Mello-Leitao, 1947b: 162   163, figs. 8 9; NEW SYNONYMY.

Systenita conwayi: Brignoli, 1981: 97   ; 1983: 681.

Priscula binghamae: Huber et al., 1999: 6   7, figs. 13 17.

JUSTIFICATION OF SYNONYMY: The type specimens of Hypsorinus conwayi   were compared with the female paratypes of Hypsorinus binghamae   (the male holotype is lost; see Note below) and the original description of the male: there were no relevant differences.

TYPES: Hypsorinus binghamae   : male holotype (not examined; see Note below), 1♀ paratype and 2 juveniles (examined) from Huadquina (near Machu Picchu, 13°07'S, 72°39'W), Dept. Cuzco, Peru GoogleMaps   ; 5000 ft elev., July 1911, (collector not given), in MCZ. Crossopriza saltensis   : female holotype from Santa Barbara , Dept. Salta, Argentina   ; no date (M. Biraben), in MLP (14625), examined (see Huber et al., 1999). Hypsorinus conwayi   : 13 1♀ syntypes, and 1 juvenile, from Hampusa & above, Bolivia (not Guyana, as in Mello-Leitao, 1947b!)   ; 13 17000 ft elev. (not 1700 ft as in Mello-Leitao, 1947b!), Mar. 10, 1899 (M. Conway), in BMNH (1949.9.14.1), examined   .

NOTE: The male holotype of H. binghamae   could not be found at the MCZ. However, Chamberlin s (1916) figures 3 and 6 of the male chelicerae and pedipalp fit perfectly the material described here, and the present species is so far the only representative of the genus found south of central Peru.

DIAGNOSIS: Distinguished from congeners by the shape of the procursus (semitransparent proximal protrusion, triangular distal flap, figs. 508 509), by the shape of the bulbal apophysis (fig. 507), and the lateral position of the male cheliceral apophyses (fig. 503; similar only in P. tunebo   , cf. fig. 554).

MALE (La Paz, Bolivia) (see also detailed original description by Chamberlin, 1916): Total length 7.1, carapace width 2.9; leg 1: 38.6 (9.3+1.3+9.9+13.3+4.8), tibia 2: 6.8, tibia 3: 5.5, tibia 4: 7.5; tibia 1 l/d: 25. Habitus as in fig. 501; carapace light brown with darker spots laterally and medially, with deep thoracic groove (figs. 502, 504), ocular area light brown, darker medially and laterally, moderately elevated with eight eyes, AME very low (fig. 502); distance PME-ALE relatively small (~ 45% of PME diameter), sternum light brown with darker margins and pattern, posterior border barely curved (fig. 510); chelicerae light brown with pair of frontal apophyses laterally (fig. 503). Palps as in figs. 505 506, light brown, procursus and bulb sclerites dark brown to black; coxa without retrolateral apophysis, femur proximally with retrolateral apophysis, distally with black rim projecting ventrally (fig. 505), procursus with dorsal semitransparent protrusion proximally, prolateroventral brush, and complex system of apophyses and flaps distally (figs. 508 509); bulb with pointed, slightly spiraling apophysis (fig. 507). Legs light brown, with slightly darker rings on femora and tibiae (proximally, medially, and subdistally); legs without spines, without curved and vertical hairs; retrolateral trichobothrium of tibia 1 at 10%. Opisthosoma dark brownish-gray, with small black and white spots dorsally. Gonopore without epiandrous spigots. ALS with several piriform gland spigots.

VARIATION: Tibia 1 in 4 males: 7.3 11.9.

FEMALE (La Paz): Tibia 1 (N = 3) 6.5 10.5. In general very similar to male. Epigynum as in fig. 511; dorsal view as in fig. 512.

DISTRIBUTION: Known from northern Argentina, Bolivia, and southern Peru. Mello- Leitao (1947b) erroneously gives Guyana as type locality for Hypsorinus conwayi   , an error that was then copied by Brignoli (1983).

MATERIAL EXAMINED: PERU: Cuzco: Huadquina: Hypsorinus binghamae   female paratypes above; Cuzco, 11100 ft elev., no date (K. Schmidt), 13 4♀ in FMNH; near Calca, Hacienda Urco, in house, 9500 ft elev., Sept. 22, 1939 (K. Schmidt) 23 2♀ in AMNH. Ancash: Huari, June 5, 1989 (A. Sa- las), 13 1♀ in MUSM. BOLIVIA: La Paz: La Paz, house, 12000 ft elev., Apr. 1958 Apr. 1959 (5 vials) (R. Walsh), 43 5♀ some juveniles in AMNH; Hampusa & above: Hypsorinus conwayi   types above. Beni: 16.8 mi SW Yucumo (~ 15°23'S, 66°59'W), ~ 500 m elev., Nov. 15 19, 1989 (J. Coddington, C. E. Griswold, D. Silva, S. Larcher, E. Penaranda), 1♀ in USNM. ARGENTINA: Salta: Santa Barbara: Crossopriza saltensis   type above.


Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle


American Museum of Natural History


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History


Museum of Comparative Zoology


Museo de La Plata


Field Museum of Natural History














Priscula binghamae:

Huber 1999: 6

Physocyclus gularis:

Brignoli 1981: 94

Physocyclus binghamae:

Brignoli 1981: 97

Systenita conwayi:

Brignoli 1981: 97

Hypsorinus conwayi

Mello-Leitao 1947: 162

Hypsorinus conwayi

Mello-Leitao 1947

Crossopriza saltensis

Mello-Leitao 1941: 109

Hypsorinus binghamae

Chamberlin 1916: 224

Hypsorinus binghamae

Chamberlin 1916

Priscula gularis

Simon 1893: 319