The Afrotropical spider genus Hortipes Bosselaers & Ledoux 1998
The genus Hortipes Bosselaers & Ledoux 1998 is a recently described, very speciose genus of small (3 mm), orange spiders distributed all over Africa South of the Sahara. The genus was originally placed in the family Liocranidae (Clubionidae s.l.) but will be transferred to Corinnidae in a forthcoming publication (Bosselaers & Jocqué 2002). Hortipes displays a striking and very stable somatic morphology, combined with very diverse and often complex genitals. The most striking somatic character present in all Hortipes species is the presence an oval array of setae on the dorsal side of metatarsi I and II. Most of the 69 species described to date inhabit the litter layer of tropical mountain forests, but some species live in lowland forests or grassland. Species often occur sympatrically or even syntopically. Based on 90 primarily genitalic characters, a cladistic analysis has been executed on 34 species known from both sexes. The results of the analysis allow to distinguish three major clades within the genus.
Hortipes merwei Bosselaers & Jocqué 2000 from Bonamanzi, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa (photograph: Hans Henderickx)
Oval array of setae,
associated with three trichobothria, on the dorsal side of
metatarsus II of Hortipes
The function of this "metatarsal apparatus" is presently unknown. (SEM photograph: Hans Henderickx)
And now... the clickable Hortipes!
Hortipes merwei female from Bonamanzi, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa (photograph: Hans Henderickx)