The first Western Palearctic record of Euprosthenops Pocock (Araneae, Pisauridae), with description of a new species from Israel
expand article infoSergei Zonstein, Yuri M. Marusik§|
‡ Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel-Aviv, Israel
§ Institute for Biological Problems of the North RAS, Magadan, Russia
| University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Open Access


The primarily Afrotropical genus Euprosthenops Pocock, 1897 is recorded in the Western Palearctic for the first time. A diagnosis and an illustrated description of E. insperatus sp. nov., based on a single male from southern Israel, are provided. Considering the structure of the male palp, the holotype of E. insperatus sp. nov. resembles males of two widespread African species, E. australis Simon, 1898 and E. proximus Lessert, 1916; it differs from them by colouration pattern as well as by the different shapes of the retrolateral tibial apophysis and the palpal sclerites. A short survey of the regional insect and spider genera of the paleotropical origin is also presented.


Afrotropical, Arava Valley, new species, paleotropical, spiders, taxonomy


The spider genus Euprosthenops Pocock, 1897 currently includes nine species and one subspecies distributed within the mainland Sub-Saharan Africa except one species known from India and Pakistan (WSC 2021). The genus is relatively well studied due to the surveys by Blandin (1974, 1975, 1976, 1978) and Silva and Sierwald (2014). However, little attention has been paid to the disjunct distribution of the genus, with a wide gap between the ranges of Afrotropical and Indo-Malayan species. The present study is based on a quite unexpected occurrence of a single male congener in the Arava Valley, southernmost Israel. After examination, the male has been considered to represent a new species of Euprosthenops, which is diagnosed, described and illustrated herein.

Material and methods


NMW Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna, Austria;

SMNH Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Comparative material: Euprosthenops sp. aff. australis Simon, 1898 – 1♂ (NMW), Namibia, Windhoek (no other data). Euprosthenops proximus Lessert, 1916 – 1♂ (SMNH), DR Congo, Bandundu Province: Salonga Nat. Park, Lokoro River basin, about 110 km SSW Monkoto Village, 2°45.8'N, 20°19.3'E, alt. 400 m, 1.01–15.02.2018 (V. Kravchenko & G. Müller).

Photographs were taken using an Olympus SZX16 stereomicroscope with a Canon EOS 7D camera and prepared using the Helicon Focus 7.6.2 Pro ( Measurements were taken through the above-mentioned stereomicroscope to an accuracy of 0.01 mm. All measurements are given in millimetres.


ALE anterior lateral eye(s);

AME anterior median eye(s);

PLE posterior lateral eye(s);

PME median lateral eye(s).

Other used abbreviations are explained in the text and in the captions.


Family Pisauridae Simon, 1890

Euprosthenops Pocock, 1897

Type species

Podophthalma bayonianna Brito Capello, 1867, by subsequent designation (Simon 1898).

Diagnostic characters

The genus and its characters were comprehensibly described by Blandin (1976) and later redescribed by Silva and Sierwald (2014). Among the used characters (for their full set see Silva and Sierwald 2014), two are principal in distinguishing males from those of the closely related genus Euprosthenopsis Blandin, 1974. First, in males of Euprosthenops the palpal tibia is armed with a flattened and extended chisel-shaped retrolateral tibial apophysis (Rta; see Fig. 2C, D). Second, they possess a large lamellose distal tegular apophysis (Dt; Figs 2C, 4, 5). On the contrary, males of Euprosthenopsis have a wide and concave retrolateral tibial apophysis as well as a short and rounded distal tegular apophysis (see Blandin 1974; Silva and Sierwald 2014).

Composition and distribution

According to WSC (2021) with the present addition, Euprosthenops includes ten species and one subspecies: ♂♀ E. australis Simon, 1898 (Senegal, Nigeria, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa), ♂♀ E. bayaonianus (Brito Capello, 1867) (West, Central and East Africa), ♀ E. benoiti Blandin, 1976 (Rwanda), ♂♀ E. biguttatus Roewer, 1955 (Congo, Namibia), ♂♀ E. ellioti (O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1877) (India, Pakistan?), ♂ E. insperatus sp. nov. (Israel), ♀ E. pavesii Lessert, 1928 (Central and East Africa), ♂♀ E. proximus Lessert, 1916 (Central, East and South Africa), ♂♀ E. p. maximus Blandin, 1976 (Ivory Coast), ♀ E. schenkeli (Roewer, 1955) (East Africa), ♂ E. wuehlischi Roewer, 1955 (Namibia). The record of a single female specimen of E. ellioti in the Pakistani Punjab by Dyal (1935) is doubtful, as there are no illustrations provided for this material and it is possible that even the generic assignment is not correct.

Euprosthenops insperatus sp. nov.

Figs 1, 2, 4A–D, 5A, C, 7, 8

Type material

Holotype ♂ (SMNH), Israel, Southern District: Arava Valley, Hahal Shezaf 5 km S. Hazeva (Hatseva) Village, 30°43'N, 35°16'E, –120 m (below sea level), 26.03.2006 (S. Zonstein). The spider was collected within the Aqaba–Jordan section of the East African – Syrian rift zone, in a few kilometres to the west from the midline of fault. The holotype specimen is in a relatively good condition, only the left leg III is completely missed being evidently lost prior to sampling and preservation.


The sole male of the new species most closely resembles the males of E. australis and E. proximus in a number of similarly shaped structures: the distal tegular apophysis (Dt), the tegular prolateral projection (Pp), the median apophysis (Ma) and the retrolateral tibial apophysis (Ta). Euprosthenops insperatus sp. nov. differs from these similar species in having relatively longer prolateral tegular projection (length of tegulum/length of projection ratio 1.4 to 1.5 vs. 1.6), in the localization of the embolus origin (posteriorly from posterior edge of distal tegular apophysis vs. anteriorly in E. australis), and in the shape of the distal part of the distal tegular apophysis, as well as by shorter palpal tibia (length/width ratio 1.5 vs. 1.6 to 1.7). Structure of male palp differs in many details from that in E. proximus and E. australis (Figs 2, 4A–F, 5A, C cf. Figs 3, 4E–G, 5B, D). From E. schenkeli, E. pavesii and E. benoiti, where the conspecific males remain unknown, E. insperatus sp. nov. can be distinguished by having a dissimilar dorsal abdominal pattern (Fig. 1B cf. Blandin 1976, figs 2, 3, 8).


Male. Habitus as in Fig. 1A, B. Total body length 13.75. Color in alcohol: cephalothorax, chelicerae, palps and legs mostly light to medium ginger brown; X-shaped eye group and radial thoracic grooves darkened; eyes encircled with narrow blackish areas; postocular area, chelicerae anteriorly and coxae I–IV ventrally light yellowish brown; maxillae and labium medium brown, sternum medium brown with short longitudinal dark brown band posteriorly; abdomen light brown anterodorsally, other parts of abdomen dark brown; carapace with two wide submarginal bands of adpressed whitish pubescence, abdomen with two similar longitudinal bands dorsally and with two very narrow light grey bands ventrally; all segments of palps and legs I–IV slightly to noticeably darkened proximally and subapically.

Figure 1. 

Euprosthenops insperatus sp. nov., holotype male A, B habitus, dorsal and lateral C, E cephalothorax, dorsal and ventral D, F eye group, dorsal and frontal. Scale bars: 5 mm (A); 2 mm (B); 1 mm (C, E, F); 0.5 mm (D).

Figure 2. 

Euprosthenops insperatus sp. nov., holotype male, structures of left (A, B) and right (C, D) palp A entire palp, retrolateral B palpal tibia and cymbium, dorsal C, D distal palpal tibia and basal embolus close up, retrolateral and ventral. Abbreviations: Co – conductor, Dt – distal tegular process, Ma –– median apophysis, Ta – retrolateral tibial apophysis. Scale bars: 0.5 mm (A, B); 0.2 mm (C, D).

Figure 3. 

Euprosthenops proximus Lessert, 1916, male, structures of left palp A entire palp, retrolateral B–E palpal tibia and cymbium, dorsal, prolateral, ventral and retrolateral. Scale bars: 0.5 mm.

Carapace (Fig. 1C) 5.45 long, 4.21 wide. Clypeus and eye group as in Fig. 1D, F. Clypeus height 0.62. Eye diameters and interdistances: ALE 0.33, AME 0.22, PME 0.36, PLE 0.35, ALEALE 1.21, ALEAME 0.75, AMEAME 0.16, AMEPME 0.33, ALEPLE 1.64, PMEPME 0.23, PMEPLE 0.45, PLEPLE 1.27. Cheliceral fang furrow: promargin and reromargin each armed with narrow row of 3 evenly disposed teeth, promargin with smaller uniformly sized and shaped teeth; within unevenly larger teeth of retromarginal row, median tooth largest. Sternum, labium and maxillae as in Fig. 1E. Labium 0.69 long, 0.86 wide. Sternum sharply nonagonal, 2.42 long, 2.43 wide.

Ventral pairs of spines on tibiae I–IV: 4, 4, 3, 4, respectively. Paired claws on tarsi I–IV with 6–7 teeth each.

Palp and leg measurements as follows:

Femur Patella Tibia Metatarsus Tarsus Total
Palp 2.74 0.85 0.96 2.91 7.46
Leg I 11.31 2.90 11.84 12.77 5.66 44.48
Leg II 10.74 2.89 10.53 11.84 5.29 41.29
Leg III 9.13 2.18 7.98 8.27 3.71 31.27
Leg IV 11.28 2.54 11.01 11.15 4.89 40.87

Male palp (Figs 2, 4A–D, 5A). Femur shorter than cymbium, 5 times longer than wide. Tibia slightly longer than patella with retrolateral apophysis (Ta) shorter than tibia’s width. Cymbium 2.35 longer than wide, with long tip (about 0.25 of cymbium length). Subtegulum (St) moderately small and located retrolaterally. Tegulum with prolateral pouch (Tp) and distinct prolateral projection (Pp), height of projection (from base of tegulum to tip of projection) exceeds length of tegular distal apophysis (Dt). Distal apophysis with prolateral hook-shaped tip, anterior prolateral part slanting. Conductor (Co) large and long, weakly sclerotized. Embolus with 2 teeth on anterior loop.

Figure 4. 

Euprosthenops insperatus sp. nov., holotype male (A–D) and E. proximus Lessert, 1916, male (E–G), separated copulatory bulb A, E retrolateral B, F retrodorsal C ventral D, G frontal. Small teeth of embolus are indicated with arrows. Abbreviations: Co – conductor, Dt – distal tegular process, El – embolus loop, Em – embolus, Ma – median apophysis, Pp – prolateral projection, St – subtegulum, Tp – prolateral tegular pouch. Scale bars: 0.2 mm.

Female. Unknown.


From the Latin adjective of the masculine gender “insperatus” for “unforeseen”, alluding to the unexpected discovery of a species belonging to the previously paleotropical genus Euprosthenops in Israel.

Figure 5. 

Euprosthenops insperatus sp. nov., holotype male (A, C), and males of E. australis Simon, 1898 (B) and E. proximus Lessert, 1916 (D); comparison of copulatory bulbs schematically depicted in the same position. The differences in their structure are indicated with arrows. Abbreviations: Co – conductor, Dt – distal tegular process, Em – embolus, Ma –– median apophysis, Pp – prolateral projection.


The holotype was found inside a small patch of shrubs and reeds growing close to a periodically wet riverbed that crosses the extremely arid desert biotopes (Fig. 6).

Figure 6. 

Surroundings of Nahal Shezaf, the type locality of Euprosthenops insperatus sp. nov. (A–D).


Known only from the type locality (Fig. 7). The location of this sole record in relation to the records of other congeners lays far outside the previously known genus range (Fig. 8).

Figure 7. 

Euprosthenops insperatus sp. nov., distribution record.

Figure 8. 

Distribution of Euprosthenops spp. Records of Afrotropical congeners are presented as circles (localities) and quadrangles (country records) according to numbers: 1 E. australis Simon, 1898 2 E. bayaonianus (Brito Capello, 1867) 3 E. proximus maximus Blandin, 1976 4 E. wuehlischi Roewer, 1955 5 E. biguttatus Roewer, 1955 6 E. proximus proximus Lessert, 1916 7 E. pavesii Lessert, 1928 8 E. schenkeli (Roewer, 1955) 9 E. benoiti Blandin, 1976. Records of Asian E. ellioti (O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1877) and E. insperatus sp. nov. are indicated as triangles (? means questionable record) and diamond, respectively.


Since the 1960s, the territory belonging to the modern Israel is known as the “crossroads” for different plant and animal taxa penetrating the country from the north, south and east (Zohary 1966; Danin et al. 1975; Furth 1975; Danin 1988; Freidberg 1988; Tchernov 1988). This biogeographical feature of the country can explain why species of paleotropical origin, primarily associated with the adjacent regions of East Africa, are presented here. The data listed below do not claim to be exhaustive; they are merely intended to show that a pattern of distribution, similar to the above-noted one, is neither frequent nor exclusive in relation to various groups of spiders and insects represented in Israel and adjacent Middle East countries.

Regarding the spiders (Araneae), the genus Levymanus Zonstein & Marusik, 2013 (Palpimanidae) originally was established as a monotypic taxon known only from the desert rift zone in south Israel (see Zonstein and Marusik 2013). Later, its type species was found in Saudi Arabia (El-Hennawy 2014) and UAE (Zonstein et al. 2017). Finally, two additional species were described from Ethiopia and south Iran (Zonstein et al. 2017; Zamani and Marusik 2020).

Two widespread paleotropical genera, Calommata Lucas, 1837 (Atypidae) and Cambalida Simon, 1909 (Corinnidae) are represented in Israel by a single species each (Levy 2007; personal unpublished data regarding the presence of Cambalida sp. in Israel). The shared range of all other species belonging to these genera extends from the Sub-Saharan Africa to south and eastern Asia (WSC 2021). Likewise, Evipomma simoni Alderweireldt, 1992 is a representative of the mostly paleotropical wolf spider genus Evipomma Roewer, 1959 (Lycosidae); this species, known previously from Sudan and Egypt, has been very recently found in southern regions of Israel (see Armiach Steinpress et al. 2021).

The similar situation is observed in two Afrotropical spider genera. Within eight species of Festucula Simon, 1901 (Salticidae) known from Sub-Saharan Africa, the generotype E. vermiformis Simon, 1901 has been recorded also in Sudan, Egypt and Israel (Azarkina and Foord 2014; WSC 2021). The same is true for Pararaneus Caporiacco, 1940 (Araneidae), where four of five species are limited in their distribution to either the mainland Africa or Madagascar, and only the trans-African P. spectator (Karsch, 1885) extends northward the genus range to Yemen, Sinai (Egypt) and Israel (Levy 1998; WSC 2021).

A similar disjunct distribution is recorded for the mostly Afrotropical huntsman spider genus Pseudomicrommata Järvi, 1912 (Sparassidae). Here, the distribution of four congeners is restricted to the western, eastern and southern regions of the mainland Africa (Moramand 2015). However, one species, P. mocranica Moramand, Zamani & Jäger, 2019 has been recently found in the Sistan & Baluchistan Province of Iran (see Moramand et al. 2019).

Among the insects (Hexapoda), the distribution of a paleotropical (predominantly, of an Afrotropical) taxon having its northernmost limit in Israel or very close to it can be observed in several insect orders. According to Blondi et al. (2017), the Afrotropical flea beetle genus Calotheca Heyden, 1887 (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae) embraces 27 species distributed predominantly in central, southern and eastern regions of mainland Africa. One of them, C. sacra (Weise, 1897), is known mostly from East Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan), with one record in southwestern Saudi Arabia. However, this species considerably extends the genus range, penetrating the Great Rift Valley to the north as far as the northern coast of the Dead Sea (where it was originally described from).

In the tiger beetle subfamily Cicindelinae (Carabidae), East African Cephalota littorea (Forskål, 1775) spreads northward almost achieving the Egypt-Israeli border at the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, while Asian records of Habrodera nylotica (Dejean, 1825) distributed throughout the mainland Africa and recorded also for the Canary Islands, are limited to the Sinai mountains (Matalin and Chikatunov 2016, fig. 5).

Within the weevil family Curculionidae, the paleotropical (and mostly Afrotropical) genus Aorus Schoenherr, 1835 is represented in Israel by A. anthracinus Brancsik, 1898, and this sole Palearctic record is the northernmost point of the genus distribution (Friedman 2018). A similar situation is observed in the African weevil genus Bradybibastes Heller, 1923, where one of species, B. discoidalis (Tournier, 1873), was found also in the southern part of Israel (see Friedman 2009). Inside the species-rich weevil genus Merus Gistel, 1857, M. friedbergi Friedman, 2019, recently described from south Israel, is the only Palearctic member of the denticulatus species group. So far, this species group has been considered to include 10 described and a few undescribed species from east, west, central and south regions of Africa, with the majority of the species concentrating along the Great Rift Valley (Friedman 2019). According to Friedman (2009), two apparently undescribed weevil species belonging to the Afrotropical genus Cylindroides Fairmaire, 1886 occur in southern Israel in the Rift Valley and in the Central and Southern Negev.

In the mayfly family Baetidae (Ephemeroptera), Cloeon perkinsi Barnard, 1932, previously known only from the western, eastern and southern regions of the mainland Africa, has been very recently found in Yemen, western Saudi Arabia and Israel (Yanai et al. 2020).

Among the taxa of Diptera, a disjunctive fruit fly genus Hyalotephritis Freidberg, 1979 includes only two species: H. planiscutellata (Becker, 1903), originally described from Egypt and then found in Ethiopia and Israel, and H. complanata (Munro, 1929) known from South and South-Western Africa (Freidberg 1979). The robber fly genus Lamyra Loew, 1851 (Asilidae), which has been recently revised and relimited to four species, is endemic to the Afrotropical Realm; however, one of these species, L. vorax Loew, 1858, extends into Israel, Yemen, UAE and Saudi Arabia in the Palearctic Region (Dikow and Londt 2000).

Similar paleotropical relations are also known for some Israeli taxa of moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera). Since description, the tiger moth genus Olepa Watson, 1980 (Erebidae, Arctiinae) has been considered as restricted to South and South-Eastern Asia (see Singh and Singh 2013). Several years ago, however, the first Palearctic species certainly belonging to the genus was described from Israel (Witt et al. 2005). Between 420 species of the butterfly family Noctuidae, registered in Israel by 2007, only two species of Condica Walker, 1856 follow this type of distribution (see Kravchenko et al. 2007). According to these data, C. capensis (Gueneé, 1852), widespread in the Old World tropical zone, penetrates Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and Israel, with the northernmost limit of its range in the Dead Sea area. While the mostly South Asian C. palestinensis (Staudinger, 1895) spreads northward along the rift zone to the Jordan Valley and Syria.

All the above-noted examples indicate that the disjunctive range of Euprosthenops is only a particular case of a more common pattern. In the future, either E. insperatus sp. nov. itself or related species, could well be found in Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other regions of the Middle East. It is possible, however, that for various reasons, the former connections have disappeared and the gap will remain unfilled.


We thank Alireza Zamani (currently at Zoological Museum, the University of Turku) who kindly checked an early version of the manuscript. We also appreciate Dragomir Dimitrov (University of Barcelona, Spain) and Xiaoqi Mi (Tongren University, China) for their constructive comments. Special thanks to Seppo Koponen who arranged our stay in Turku and provided us with the museum facilities. The senior co-author was supported by the Ministry of Absorption, Israel.


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