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Theraphosinae

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New World Tarantulas

Part of the book series: Zoological Monographs ((ZM,volume 6))

Abstract

Theraphosinae is the most diverse subfamily of tarantulas in the world, with more than 500 known species. The group is endemic to the New World and its geographic distribution ranges from Southern North America to temperate zones of South America. The largest and most long-lived spiders in the world belong to this subfamily. They inhabit almost all terrestrial environments from sea level up to 4500 m altitude. Beyond the morphological diagnostic characters of the subfamily, this group is also characterized by a singular mechanism of defense, employing abdominal urticating setae that they can release to the air when they are disturbed. For over a century, this subfamily remained poorly known from both biological and taxonomical aspects. In fact, most genera were established during the last few decades and several papers on behavior, ecology, and reproduction were published. Due to their size, longevity, sex dimorphism, relatively easy conditions for breeding, and other biological characteristics, this group constitutes an interesting model for studies on metabolism, thermoregulation, biomechanics, communication, reproduction, and development. This chapter will present an updated overview of the taxonomy and phylogeny of the group as well as a revision of recent scientific contributions in different fields of general biology.

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Acknowledgments

We thank R. West, J. Mendoza, R. Kaderka, R. Bertani, and D. Valencia-Cuéllar, who generously gave us photos and figures used in this chapter. To Nelson Ferretti and Daniella Sherwood for the critical reading; L.A. Gómez who helped us with English.

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Pérez-Miles, F., Perafán, C. (2020). Theraphosinae. In: Pérez-Miles, F. (eds) New World Tarantulas. Zoological Monographs, vol 6. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48644-0_5

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