Priscula venezuelana Simon, 1893,

Huber, Bernhard A. & Villarreal, Osvaldo, 2020, On Venezuelan pholcid spiders (Araneae, Pholcidae), European Journal of Taxonomy 718, pp. 1-317: 264-270

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Priscula venezuelana Simon, 1893


Priscula venezuelana Simon, 1893 

Figs 939–942View Figs 939–944, 945–966View Figs 945–951View Figs 952–957View Figs 958–966, 1021–1022, 1062

Priscula venezuelana Simon, 1893b: 477–478  , fig. 466.

Priscula ranchograndensis González-Sponga, 1999: 150  , figs 47–55. Synonymized in Huber 2000: 136.

Priscula venezuelana  – Huber 1997d: 601, figs 20a–b, 21a–d; 2000: 136, figs 527–529. — González- Sponga 1999: 164, figs 76–85.

Physocyclus venezuelanus  – Brignoli 1981: 96.


In a previous redescription of the species ( Huber 2000), González-Sponga’s (1999) “ Priscula venezuelana  ” was considered “probably misidentified”. This was based on the observation that his “ Priscula ranchograndensis  ” was a synonym of ‘true’ P. venezuelana  , and on the assumption that he would not  describe the same species under two names in a single publication. However, our reexamination of González-Sponga’s specimens revealed that the two ‘species’ in his publication are indeed the same, i.e., his Priscula venezuelana  was correctly identified.

González-Sponga (1999) reported P. venezuelana  (under this name) from two localities: “Alto de Ño León, carretera El Junquito-Colonia Tovar” [10.432° N, 67.166° W, ~ 2060 m a.s.l., i.e., ~ 6 km W of the coordinates indicated in the original publication], 2 ♀♀, 2 juvs, MIZA 105681 (MAGS 849), collected 14 Nov. 1981; and “San Antonio de los Altos” [approximately 10.37° N, 66.97° W, ~ 1400 m a.s.l.], 1 ♂, MIZA 105701 (MAGS 230), collected 16 May 1981.

Type material

Priscula venezuelana  : ♂ lectotype, 3 ♀♀ paralectotypes and 9 juvs, MNHN (10923), from two localities: Capital, Caracas [approximately 10.5° N, 66.9° W] and Aragua, Colonia Tovar [approximately 10.41° N, 67.29° W]; collected by E. Simon in 1888. For a redescription of this material, see Huber (1997d).

Priscula ranchograndensis  : ♂ holotype, 2 ♀♀ paratypes, MIZA 105789 ( MAGS 1054), Aragua, Henri Pittier National Park, Estación Biológica [= Rancho Grande, 10.350° N, 67.684° W] (the coordinates in the original publication are about 4 km SW of the biological station building), 29 Mar. 1987 ( C. Avila  ); examined.

New records

VENEZUELA  – Aragua • 1 ♂, 1 juv., ZFMK (Ar 22119), and 4 juvs in pure ethanol, ZFMK (Ven18- 153), Colonia Tovar , forest above town (10.4144° N, 67.3005° W), 2140 m a.s.l., 8 Nov. 2018 (B.A. Huber, O. Villarreal M.)GoogleMaps  1 ♀ in pure ethanol, ZFMK (Ven02/100-9), same locality, 26 Nov. 2002 (B.A. Huber). 7 juvs in pure ethanol (identity confirmed by CO1), ZFMK (Ven02/100-44), Colonia Tovar , forest at Cerro Picacho (10.408° N, 67.308° W), ~ 2200 m a.s.l., 27 Nov. 2002 (B.A. Huber)GoogleMaps  2 ♂♂, 9 ♀♀, ZFMK (Ar 22120), and 1 ♂, 3 ♀♀ in pure ethanol, ZFMK (Ven02/100-28, 29, 30), Henri Pittier National Park , Rancho Grande (10.350° N, 67.684° W), ~ 1150 m a.s.l., in building, 12 Dec. 2002 (B.A. Huber)GoogleMaps  1 ♀, ZFMK (Ar 22121), and 1 juv. in pure ethanol, ZFMK (Ven20-163), Henri Pittier National Park , forest near La Cumbre (10.3575° N, 67.5771° W), 1450 m a.s.l., 20 Feb. 2020 (B.A. Huber, O. Villarreal M.). – LaraGoogleMaps  1 ♂, ZFMK (Ar 22125), Yacambú National Park (9.707° N, 69.577° W), ~ 1550 m a.s.l., at building, 15–16 Dec. 2002 (B.A. Huber, A. Giupponi)GoogleMaps  2 ♂♂, 1 ♀, ZFMK (Ar 22126), Yacambú National Park , Sendero Ecológico (9.709° N, 69.578–69.582° W), ~ 1550 m a.s.l., 15–16 Dec. 2002 (B.A. Huber, A. Pérez González, O. Villarreal M., B. Striffler, A. Giupponi). – La GuairaGoogleMaps  1 ♂, 2 ♀♀, ZFMK (Ar 22122), and 5 juvs in pure ethanol, ZFMK (Ven18-160), El Limón , above road Colonia Tovar-Puerto Cruz (10.4566° N, 67.2548° W), mostly on banana plants in forest clearing, 1535 m a.s.l., 9 Nov. 2018 (B.A. Huber, O. Villarreal M.)GoogleMaps  1 ♂, 1 ♀, ZFMK (Ar 22123), and 1 ♀, 1 juv. in pure ethanol, ZFMK (Ven20-170), El Limón , ‘site 2’ (10.4774° N, 67.2819° W), 1235 m a.s.l., forest along stream, 21 Feb. 2020 (B.A. Huber, O. Villarreal M.). – MirandaGoogleMaps  1 ♂, 1 ♀ abdomen (♀ abdomen transferred from ZFMK, Ven18-147), ZFMK (Ar 22124), and 1 ♀, 3 juvs in pure ethanol, ZFMK (Ven18-147, 148) (♀ abdomen transferred to ZFMK, Ar 22124), El Ávila National Park , between Sabas Nieves and La Silla (10.5245° N, 66.8566° W), 1600 m a.s.l., 7 Nov. 2018 (B.A. Huber, O. Villarreal M.)GoogleMaps  4 ♂♂, 2 ♀♀, MIZA, El Volcán, Topotepuy [10.417° N, 66.851° W, ~ 1450 m a.s.l.], 11–13 Nov. 2019 (O. Villarreal, J. Rodriguez)GoogleMaps  .

Dubious record

VENEZUELA  – Amazonas • 1 ♂, MIZA 1840View Materials, Cerro Yari (5.717° N, 65.900° W), 2200 m a.s.l., 23–28 Feb. 1995 (I.L. García)GoogleMaps  .

Redescription (amendments; see Huber 1997d; González-Sponga 1999; Huber 2000)

Eye measurements in male from El Ávila National Park: distance PME–PME 260 µm; diameter PME 200 µm; distance PME–ALE 180 µm; diameter AME 60 µm; distance AME–AME 60 µm. ALE and PLE larger than PME (diameter ALE 300 µm). Male ocular area without or with very low hump on posterior

side. Thoracic furrow deep, reaching posterior carapace margin. Male (but not  female) chelicerae with pair of distinct white areas laterally, bordered distally by sclerotized rim. Posterior margin of sternum in males and females straight (also in specimens from Rancho Grande, contra González-Sponga 1999: fig. 48). Femur-patella joints in male palp dorsally, i.e., not  shifted towards one or the other side. Ventral distal margin of palpal femur sclerotized but barely protruding. Procursus ( Figs 945–950View Figs 945–951) with distinctive bifid apophysis distally, dorsal part pointed and conical, ventral part flat and directed toward prolateral. Genital bulb ( Figs 952–957View Figs 952–957) with small proximal sclerite connecting to tarsus, strong apophysis slightly spiraling, with large whitish area ventrally between strong proximal transversal sclerite and main apophysis. Legs with strongly curved hairs mainly on legs 1–2 (femora, tibiae, and metatarsi), also on tibiae 3–4; with more than usual short vertical hairs (but not  in high density). Prolateral trichobothrium present on all leg tibiae. Tibia 1 in 16 males (including the thre males in Huber 2000): 11.5–17.7 (mean 14.9); in male lectotype: 12.1. Leg 1 length in largest specimen: 73.0.

There is considerable color variation (both in males and females) that seems to be correlated with microhabitat: ground-dwelling specimens tend to be dark ( Fig. 939View Figs 939–944), with many dark marks on abdomen; with median and radial dark marks on carapace; with distinct dark rings on legs; with rather dark sternum. By contrast, leaf-dwelling specimens (in particular juveniles, rarely also adults; Figs 940–942View Figs 939–944) tend to be light-colored, in particular abdomen with many white marks but without or with few dark marks; carapace with median dark mark but often without or with indistinct dark radial marks; legs without or with indistinct dark rings; sternum largely light colored.

Females with slightly variable shape of epigynum: some but not  all females from Yacambú National Park and Henri Pittier National Park with slightly wider epigynum (compare Figs 958, 961, 964View Figs 958–966). Posterior plate always divided medially by whitish area. Internal genitalia ( Figs 951View Figs 945–951, 960, 963, 966View Figs 958–966) with pair of

elongate pore plates in roughly parallel position, and large anterior arc. Tibia 1 in 15 females (including female from Rancho Grande in Huber 2000): 9.5–14.0 (mean 11.9). In two paralectotypes: 9.9, 10.6.


Apparently widespread in the Coastal Ranges in northern Venezuela  (Fig. 1062). All localities are at about 1150–2200 m a.s.l. The dubious record from Amazonas state is not  shown in Fig. 1062.

Natural history

This species occurs both in natural habitats and in weakly to strongly altered habitats, but is much easier to find in the latter. Numerous specimens were collected in the abandoned building at Rancho Grande were P. venezuelana  shared the rooms with Mesabolivar eberhardi Huber, 2000  . While M. eberhardi  was hanging in webs in corners, P. venezuelana  was resting flat on the wall. Some specimens were collected from banana leaves in a small forest clearing at El Limón.

Within forests, specimens occur both in protected spaces near the ground (e.g., in a large palm sheath at La Cumbre) and higher among the vegetation on green leaves. Each microhabitat seems to have its ecomorph, with dark specimens on the ground and light specimens on leaves (see above). At El Ávila and Yacambú, both ecomorphs were found to be present. Adult leaf-dwelling specimens seemed to prefer large monocot leaves, while juveniles were also found on dicot leaves, with their flat webs often spanning several leaves. When disturbed, the leaf-dwellers did not  vibrate or bounce but eventually moved away slowly and reluctantly on their webs.

Egg sacs were large and relatively densely covered with silk ( Fig. 941View Figs 939–944). A relatively small egg-sac from El Limón contained ~ 70 eggs; a large egg-sac from La Cumbre contained ~ 110 eggs. González-Sponga (1999) reported two egg-sacs with 70 and 162 eggs, respectively.


Germany, Bonn, Zoologische Forschungsinstitut und Museum "Alexander Koenig"


Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle


Museo del Instituto de Zoologia Agricola Francisco Fernandez Yepez


Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig














Priscula venezuelana Simon, 1893

Huber, Bernhard A. & Villarreal, Osvaldo 2020

Priscula ranchograndensis González-Sponga, 1999: 150

Huber B. A. 2000: 136
Gonzalez-Sponga M. A. 1999: 150

Priscula venezuelana

Huber B. A. 1997: 601

Physocyclus venezuelanus

Brignoli P. M. 1981: 96

Priscula venezuelana

Simon E. 1893: 478