AAS Australasian Arachnological Society

Pararchaeid Spiders

Pararchaeidae Forster & Platnick, 1984

(compiled by Michael G. Rix, with photographs by the author)


Female Pararchaea sp. opens in new window
Female Ozarchaea forsteri
from the Pouakai Range,
New Zealand (see Rix, 2006)

Pararchaeid spiders share a number of characters that readily separate them from all other spiders. They are small to very small in size (less than 3mm in body length), and variously brown, yellow or cream in colour. They possess a distinctly raised and clearly demarcated pars cephalica (head region) bearing eight eyes and relatively few hairs. The chelicerae are elongate, and project out of an oval foramen in the front of the cephalothorax; this foramen is completely surrounded by sclerotised cuticle. The chelicerae are constricted proximally, with peg teeth next to the fangs. The carapace cuticle is squamate (scaled), the legs are relatively short, and the tarsi are distinctly longer than the metatarsi. The abdomen is oval in profile, with four dorsal sigilla (muscle attachment points) forming a quadrangle, and six spinnerets. The male pedipalp possesses a prominent retrolateral paracymbium, and the female genitalia are entelegyne, with globular receptacula. The unique combination of a fully sclerotised cephalothoracic foramen plus entelegyne female genitalia separates the Pararchaeidae from all other families.


Female Pararchaea sp. opens in new window
Female Anarchaea raveni
in aggressive posture

Pararchaeid spiders are known only from the forests of Australia and New Zealand, where they live within moss, thick leaf litter or under rotting logs. Some species are also arboreal, living under tree bark or among dense foliage. Most species are rare or very rare in nature, and many taxa are restricted in distribution. Egg sacs are attached to the undersides of stones or logs, and are remarkable in being several times larger than the female spiders that build them (see photograph).

Pararchaeidae in Australasia

Female Pararchaea sp. opens in new window
Female Anarchaea raveni (right) with her remarkable
egg sac (see Rix, 2006)

Thirty-four pararchaeid species in seven genera have now been described from Australasia, after Rix (2006) revised the family. Of these, most species are from the Australian mainland, with only three species in New Zealand.


Thirty-one pararchaeid species in five genera are described from Australia. These species are listed below:

Genus Anarchaea

  • A. corticola (Hickman, 1969) (TAS)
  • A. falcata Rix, 2006 (NSW)
  • A. raveni Rix, 2006 (QLD)
  • A. robusta (Rix, 2005) (TAS)

Genus Flavarchaea

  • F. anzac Rix, 2006 (QLD)
  • F. badja Rix, 2006 (NSW)
  • F. barmah Rix, 2006 (NSW, VIC)
  • F. hickmani (Rix, 2005) (TAS)
  • F. lofty Rix, 2006 (SA)
  • F. lulu Rix, 2005) (TAS)
  • F. stirlingensis Rix, 2006 (WA)

Genus Nanarchaea

  • N. binnaburra (Forster, 1955) (QLD)
  • N. bryophila (Hickman, 1969) (NSW, VIC, TAS)

Genus Ozarchaea

  • O. bodalla Rix, 2006 (NSW)
  • O. bondi Rix, 2006 (NSW)
  • O. daviesae Rix, 2006 (QLD)
  • O. harveyi Rix, 2006 (WA)
  • O. janineae Rix, 2006 (NSW)
  • O. ornata (Hickman, 1969) (TAS)
  • O. platnicki Rix, 2006 (QLD)
  • O. saxicola (Hickman, 1969) (TAS)
  • O. spurgeon Rix, 2006 (QLD)
  • O. stradbroke Rix, 2006 (QLD)
  • O. valida Rix, 2006 (NSW)
  • O. waldockae Rix, 2006 (WA)
  • O. werrikimbe Rix, 2006 (NSW)
  • O. westraliensis Rix, 2006 (WA)
  • O. wiangarie Rix, 2006 (NSW)

Genus Westrarchaea

  • W. pusilla Rix, 2006 (WA)
  • W. sinuosa Rix, 2006 (WA)
  • W. spinosa Rix, 2006 (WA)

New Zealand

Three pararchaeid species in three genera are described from New Zealand:

Genus Forstrarchaea

  • F. rubra (Forster, 1949)

Genus Ozarchaea

  • O. forsteri Rix, 2006

Genus Pararchaea

  • P. alba Forster, 1955

South-east Asia

Pararchaeid spiders are not known from South-east Asia.


Forster, R. R. (1949). New Zealand spiders of the family Archaeidae. Records of the Canterbury Museum 5: 193-203.

Forster, R. R. (1955). Spiders of the family Archaeidae from Australia and New Zealand. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 83: 391-403.

Forster, R. R. and Platnick, N. I. (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.

Hickman, V. V. (1969). New species of Toxopidae and Archaeidae (Araneida). Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 103: 1-11.

Rix, M. G. (2005). A review of the Tasmanian species of Pararchaeidae and Holarchaeidae (Arachnida, Araneae). The Journal of Arachnology 33: 135-152.

Rix, M. G. (2006). Systematics of the Australasian spider family Pararchaeidae (Arachnida: Araneae). Invertebrate Systematics 20: 203-254.

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reference: AAS – Australasian Arachnological Society
online: http://www.australasian-arachnology.org/arachnology/araneae/pararchaeidae/
©2005 AAS – date: 2017/08/31

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