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Ecribellate, haplogyne, araneomorph spiders, three claws, with peg teeth, with cheliceral and pedicel stridulatory systems; modified carapace that wraps around the base of the chelicerae forming a constricted neck; extant genera with set of anterior booklungs and pair of posterior spiracles (configuration unknown in fossil archaeids). For complete description see Forster & Platnick (1984).
While archaeids have a substantial fossil record (12 genera; Dunlop et al. 2017) from the Northern Hemisphere, the extant Southern Hemisphere genera form a well-supported monophyletic group based on morphology and molecular data (Wood et al. 2012; Wood et al. 2013). The extant clade can be distinguished from the fossil genera by the following combination of characters (Wood et al. 2012): presence of a tubercle on the sternum, which may be implicated in the pedicel stridulatory system that has been observed in the extant genera; the posterior edge of the carapace is truncated in the extant clades rather than tapering off as in the fossils; the distal portion of the chelicerae are curved towards the posterior; the presence of a brush of hairs on the prolateral side of the pedipalpal tarsi which interacts with cheliceral stridulatory file (Wood 2008), whereas fossils have only stridulatory picks (Madagascarchaea gracilicollis (Millot, 1948) is the exception, having both stridulatory picks and a brush of hairs). The extant archaeids are comprised of the following genera: Austrarchaea Forster & Platnick, 1984, and Zephyrarchaea Rix & Harvey, 2012a, from Australia; Eriauchenius, and Madagascarchaea gen. n., from Madagascar; and Afrarchaea Forster & Platnick, 1984, from South Africa. The Australian taxa (Austrarchaea and Zephyrarchaea) can be distinguished from the African and Madagascan taxa by the numerous spermathecae in females, the lack of a FSGP that sits immediately dorsal to the bursa, and the long wiry embolus on the male pedipalps (Forster and Platnick 1984; Rix and Harvey 2011, 2012a, b; Wood 2008). Zephyrarchaea can be distinguished from Austrarchaea by the carapace height to carapace length ratio being less than 2, and by the presence of accessory setae on or adjacent to the proximal cheliceral paturon bulge in males (Rix and Harvey 2012a). In females of the African and Madagascan genera there is a bursa with clusters of secretory pores, typically on the anterior and dorsal side of the bursa, and a FSGP is also present immediately adjacent to the dorsal side of the bursa.
- Wood, H; Scharff, N; 2017: A review of the Madagascan pelican spiders of the genera Eriauchenius O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1881 and Madagascarchaea gen. n. (Araneae, Archaeidae) ZooKeys, (727): 1-96. doi
- Dunlop J, Penney D, Jekel D (2017) A summary list of fossil spiders and their relatives – World Spider Catalog. Natural History Museum Bern, Bern. http://wsc.nmbe.ch [version 18.0; accessed on May 22, 2017]
- Wood H, Griswold C, Gillespie R (2012) Phylogenetic placement of pelican spiders (Archaeidae, Araneae), with insight into evolution of the “neck” and predatory behaviours of the superfamily Palpimanoidea. Cladistics 28: 598–626. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-0031.2012.00411.x
- Wood H, Matzke N, Gillespie R, Griswold C (2013) Treating fossils as terminal taxa in divergence time estimation reveals ancient vicariance patterns in the palpimanoid spiders. Systematic Biology 62: 264–284. https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/sys092
- Wood H (2008) A revision of the assassin spiders of the Eriauchenius gracilicollis group, a clade of spiders endemic to Madagascar (Araneae : Archaeidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 152: 255–296. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.2007.00359.x
- Forster R, Platnick N (1984) A review of the archaeid spiders and their relatives, with notes on the limits of the superfamily Palpimanoidea (Arachnida, Araneae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 178: 1–106.
- Rix M, Harvey M (2011) Australian assassins, Part I: a review of the assassin spiders (Araneae, Archaeidae) of mid-eastern Australia. Zookeys 123: 1–100. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.123.1448
- Rix M, Harvey M (2012a) Australian Assassins, Part II: a review of the new assassin spider genus Zephyrarchaea (Araneae, Archaeidae) from southern Australia. Zookeys 191: 1–62. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.191.3070
- Rix M, Harvey M (2012b) Australian Assassins, Part III: a review of the assassin spiders (Araneae, Archaeidae) of tropical north-eastern Queensland. Zookeys 218: 1–50. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.218.3662