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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Chelicerata
Subclass Arachnida
Order Acarina
Family Halacaridae

Copidognathus longispinus Bartsch & Iliffe, 1985

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Copidognathus longispinus: dorsal & ventral views of idiosoma

Taxonomic Characterization: Female: Anterodorsal plate (AD) with an elevated, elongate gable-like area, anteriorly protruding in form of a long stout spine. Spine markedly sculptured. Ocular plates (OC) oblong, almost quadrangular, in its anterior portion; posterior portion hidden beneath posterodorsal plate. Posterodorsal plate (PD) with its anterior straight-edged portion almost contiguous to the AD. On median and lateral portions of the PD, integument ornamented by cuticular ribs, thus forming a network. Anterior epimeral plate (AE) and genitoanal plate (GA) fused laterally. Claparede organ ending at surface of the AE with a small slit. Genital opening in distal end of the GA; distance from GO to anterior margin of GA almost 3 times the length of the GO. Ovipositor very long, surpassing the GO for much more than twice the length of the GO. Gnathosoma stout, rostrum short. Epistome strong, as a stout crest extending just beyond the level of the second pair of long maxillary setae. Legs with huge lamellae. All basifemorea with ventral lamellae. Telofemora with large ventrolateral, but only narrow ventromedial lamellae. All tarsi with large lateral claws and small, bidentate median claws. Male: unknown (Bartsch & Iliffe, 1985).

Disposition of Specimens: Holotype deposited in the Zoologisches Institut und Zoologisches Museum, Hamburg, FRG.

Ecological Classification: Either stygophilic or accidental

Size: Female Idiosoma: 353 microns long by 192 microns wide, Male: unknown

Number of Species in Genus: At least 12

Species Range: Known only from Walsingham Cave, Hamilton Parish, Bermuda.

Closest Related Species: Copidognathus longispinus belongs to the gibbus group. It is very similar to C. cristatus from Curaçao, but in C. cristatus, the frontal spine is not pronounced; the porose costae on the PD are not widened at level of gland pore; the lamellae on the legs are conspicuously smaller than in the species found in Bermudian caves. C. longispinus is also similar to C. sinuosus from the Pacific coast of South America, though the frontal spine is not as prominent and the costae on the dorsal plates are narrower than in C. longispinus (Bartsch & Iliffe, 1985).

Habitat: Anchialine limestone caves

Ecology: Collected with suction bottle from 6-8 m depths of entrance pool.

Life History: Only 1 female specimen has been collected.

Evolutionary Origins: Copidognathus longispinus has large corneae and brown eye pigment. Similar shape of the idiosoma, elaborate lamellae, as well as large corneae usually are found in species inhabiting the littoral zone. Thus, this species is likely swept into caves by tidal currents (Bartsch & Iliffe, 1985). More thorough collections, both inside and outside of caves, are needed to determine the distribution of C. longispinus and if it can complete its life cycle inside of caves.

Conservation Status: So far as is known, restricted to a single cave in Hamilton Parish, Bermuda.


  • Bartsch, I. and T.M. Iliffe. 1985. The halacarid fauna (Halacaridae, Acari) of Bermuda's Caves. Stygologia, 1(3):301-321, 55 figures.


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