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Holotype male: Main Range National Park, Cunningham's Gap, track to Mount Mitchell, Queensland, Australia, 28°03'05"S, 152°23'41"E, sifting elevated leaf litter, subtropical rainforest and adjacent transitional eucalypt forest, 805 m, 23.IV.2010, M. Rix, D. Harms (QMB S90184).
Paratypes: Allotype female, same data as holotype (QMB S90183); 1 female and 14 juveniles, same data as holotype (WAM T112555DNA: Ar55-89-F/Ar55-90-J/Ar55-91-J).
Other material examined
AUSTRALIA: Queensland: Main Range National Park: Mount Mitchell, pitfall, 1060 m, 1.III.1992, D. Cook, 1 juvenile (QMB S25714).
Additional material examined (of tentative identification)
AUSTRALIA: Queensland: Main Range National Park: Mount Superbus, summit, pyrethrum, trees and logs, 1300 m, 8-9.II.1990, G. Monteith, G. Thompson, H. Janetski, 2 juveniles (QMB S38509); Mount Asplenium, pyrethrum, trees and logs, 1290 m, 30.I.1993, G. Monteith, 1 juvenile (QMB S90179).
The specific epithet is a patronym in honour of British botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham (1791–1839), after whom the type locality of this species – Cunningham’s Gap in the Main Range National Park – is named.
Austrarchaea cunninghami can be distinguished from all other Archaeidae from mid-eastern Australia except Austrarchaea dianneae by the shape of the conductor (Figs 12D-E), which is broad, foliate and curved laterally, with a triangular apex; and from Austrarchaea dianneae by the shorter, sharply-tapered tegular sclerite 1 (TS 1) (Fig. 12F) and by the more rounded, less conical shape of the male ‘head’ (Fig. 8G).
This species can also be distinguished from other genotyped taxa from mid-eastern Australia (see Fig. 3B) by the following four unique nucleotide substitutions for COI and COII (n = 3): C(769), C(981), C(1140), G(1152).
Holotype male: Total length 2.82; leg I femur 3.01; F1/CL ratio 2.70. Cephalothorax dark reddish-brown; legs tan-brown with darker annulations; abdomen mottled grey-brown and beige, with darker brown dorsal scute and sclerites (Fig. 12B). Carapace very tall (CH/CL ratio 2.21); 1.12 long, 2.46 high, 1.05 wide; ‘neck’ 0.56 wide; bearing two pairs of rudimentary horns; highest point of pars cephalica (HPC) near middle of ‘head’ (ratio of HPC to post-ocular length 0.60), carapace gently sloping posterior to HPC; ‘head’ not strongly elevated dorsally (post-ocular ratio 0.27) (Fig. 8G). Chelicerae with brush of accessory setae on anterior face of paturon (Fig. 12C). Abdomen 1.46 long, 0.97 wide; with three pairs of dorsal hump-like tubercles (HT 1–6); dorsal scute fused anteriorly to epigastric sclerites, extending posteriorly to first pair of hump-like tubercles; HT 3–6 each covered by separate dorsal sclerites. Unexpanded pedipalp (Figs 12D-F) with broad, foliate conductor, strongly curved laterally with triangular, evenly-tapered apex; tegular sclerite 1 (TS 1) relatively short, with rectangular base and sharply-tapered apex, obscured by conductor in retrolateral view; TS 2 spur-like, longer than TS 1; TS 2a sinuous, filiform, exposed distally; TS 3 embedded proximally within distal haematodocha, with sharply-pointed apex projecting beyond retro-distal rim of tegulum.
Allotype female: Total length 3.54; leg I femur 3.24; F1/CL ratio 2.30. Cephalothorax brown; legs tan-brown with darker annulations; abdomen mottled grey-brown and beige (Fig. 12A). Carapace tall (CH/CL ratio 2.20); 1.41 long, 3.10 high, 1.28 wide; ‘neck’ 0.76 wide; bearing two pairs of rudimentary horns; highest point of pars cephalica (HPC) near middle of ‘head’ (ratio of HPC to post-ocular length 0.57), carapace gently sloping posterior to HPC; ‘head’ not strongly elevated dorsally (post-ocular ratio 0.23) (Fig. 7G). Chelicerae without accessory setae on anterior face of paturon. Abdomen 1.90 long, 1.41 wide; with three pairs of dorsal hump-like tubercles (HT 1–6). Internal genitalia with cluster of ≤ 10 variably shaped spermathecae on either side of gonopore, clusters marginally separated near midline of genital plate (Fig. 12G); innermost (anterior) spermathecae longest, sausage-shaped, bent laterally; other spermathecae variably pyriform, curved, directed laterally.
Variation: Females (n=2): total length 3.44–3.54; carapace length 1.38–1.41; carapace height 2.97–3.10; CH/CL ratio 2.15–2.20.
Distribution and habitat
Austrarchaea cunninghami is known only from rainforest habitats in the Main Range National Park of extreme south-eastern Queensland (Fig. 30).
This species is a short-range endemic taxon (Harvey 2002b), which although restricted in distribution, is abundant within the World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park near Cunningham’s Gap (M. Rix, pers. obs.). It is not considered to be of conservation concern.
- 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. doi
- Harvey M (2002b) Short-range endemism among the Australian fauna: some examples from non-marine environments. Invertebrate Systematics 16: 555-570. doi:10.1071/IS02009