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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Chelicerata
Subclass Arachnida
Order Acarina
Family Halacaridae

Copidognathus subterraneus Bartsch & Iliffe, 1985

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Copidognathus subterraneus: dorsal & ventral views of idiosoma

Taxonomic Characterization: Male: Dorsal plates ornamented with a network, each larger area subdivided by small cuticular ribs. Anterodorsal plate (AD) with a small pointed anterior process and A-shaped elevated crista. Ocular plates (OC) distally tapering but not tail-like. Neither corneae nor eye pigment seen in this specimen. At lateral margin of plate, a large gland pore and slightly distal to this, a pore canaliculus present. Posterodorsal plate (PD) slender, with its straight-ending anterior portion reaching beyond insertion of leg III. Ventral plates ornamented with minute ribs, thus finely porose, moreover a much coarser paneling contoured. Anterior epimeral plate (AE) slender; its posterior, almost quadrangular, portion extending beyond insertion of leg III. Epimeral processes inconspicuous. Claparede organ like a four-leaf clover beneath the plate. Genital opening small, surrounded by 34 perigenital setae. Leg I much stouter than the following ones. Lateral claws stout. On tarsus I, a small accessory tooth present but no claw comb. On the following tarsi, claw comb inconspicuous, with only a few small teeth. Between lateral claws, a minute median claw present. Female: 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: Male idiosoma = 310 microns long by 140 microns wide, Female unknown

Number of Species in Genus: At least 12.

Species Range: Known from Emerald Sink, Hamilton Parish, Bermuda.

Closest Related Species: Copidognathus magniporus has a similar ornamentation of dorsal and ventral plates and large gland pores, thus demonstrating a possible relationship (Bartsch & Iliffe, 1985). C. subterraneus is easily recognizable and distinguished from all other known Copidognathus species by the huge ventrolateral lamella on telofemur I. Other distinguishing characteristics include: slender idiosoma; marked paneling on plates and legs; Claparède organ enlarged with an outline of a four-leaf clover.

Habitat: Anchialine limestone caves

Ecology: Collected from fine bottom silt in 11 m depth with a fine mesh net.

Life History: Only a single male specimen has been collected.

Evolutionary Origins: Copidognathus subterraneus has a very slender idiosoma, lack of eye pigment and corneae. These features are usually found in halacarid species adapted to interstitial life (Bartsch & Iliffe, 1985). More thorough collections, both inside and outside of caves, are needed to determine the distribution of C. subterraneus 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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