Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps



Compiler and date details

31 December 2002 - Mark S. Harvey, Western Australian Museum, Perth, Western Australia 6000, Australia


The Amblypygi, or whip-spiders, are spectacular arachnids that are easily recognised by their extremely long, sensorial first pair of legs, raptorial pedipalps and lack of a 'tail'. Nevertheless, for many years they were treated as a subfamily of the order 'Pedipalpi', and it is only recently that the group has been afforded full ordinal status, along with the Schizomida and Thelyphonida (or Uropygi). A recent cladistic analysis by Weygoldt (1996) recognised five families and 19 Recent genera. The monotypic West African family Paracharontidae were placed in their own suborder, the Paleoamblypygi, and the remaining four families were placed in the Euamblypygi.

The order consists of over 135 described species (Harvey 2003) and all are restricted to tropical and subtropical regions. Amblypygids are found under rocks, logs, and loose sheets of bark, and when disturbed, run with extreme agility and speed.

The first description of an Australian amblypygid was by Lauterer (1895) who described Charon annulipes from Brisbane. This name is regarded as a nomen dubium because the holotype cannot be located, the description is inaccurate and seemingly faulty, and no amblypygid has since been recorded from south-eastern Queensland. Dunn (1949) added Charinus pescotti from north-eastern Queensland, and Harvey & West (1998) described three new species of Charon from mainland Australia and the Australian Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island.

The small Australian fauna, first catalogued by Harvey (1985), appears to have been derived from the South-East Asian fauna. Apart from a juvenile specimen of Charinus from an island in the Torres Strait, which probably represents an undescribed species (Harvey, unpublished data), all undescribed Australian species in museum collections have now been described (Harvey & West 1998).

Harvey (2003) has provided a complete catalogue to the world fauna of this order.

Database Notes

The information on the Australian Faunal Directory site for the Amblypygi is derived from the Zoological Catalogue of Australia database compiled on the Platypus software program. It incorporates changes made to the work published on 9 September 1985 as (Harvey, M.S., 1985).

Limital Area

Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.

Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.

Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.

Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
12-Feb-2010 (import)