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With 557 named spider species in 202 genera and 58 families, Baltic amber represents the richest source of fossil spiders anywhere on the planet, with research describing this remarkable fossil fauna dating back more than 200 years. The identification of numerous species is problematic because many of the older descriptions are inadequate by current taxonomic standards. To compound this problem, many of the 'type' specimens on which the original descriptions were based have been lost. This has resulted in many dubious names, which have not hitherto been dealt with appropriately, making the dataset of Baltic amber spiders appear richer and more diverse than it actually is.
Clearly, this will have consequences for any palaeoecological studies that choose to use these data. In addition, spider systematics is a highly dynamic subject, based almost entirely on extant taxa, with the latest changes (new families, genera and species, genus transfers etc.) documented in the World Spider Catalog. Until now, no similar comprehensive catalogue existed for the Baltic amber spider fauna, making it difficult for researchers to get a reliable estimate of the true palaeodiversity of the deposit or to trace the taxonomic and systematic history of any particular taxon.
The catalogue presented here resolves these problems, updates the systematic placements of fossil taxa based on recent research on extant faunas, and also serves as a starting point for searching the literature when trying to identify a new Baltic amber spider specimen. It includes 95 new taxonomic contributions. This volume will be invaluable to anybody who curates a fossil collection including Baltic amber spiders and to those who identify their own material.
PART 1 (Introduction)
About the author
Acknowledgements, photo credits and repository abbreviations
Basic spider anatomy
The Baltic amber forest
History of Baltic amber spider research
Computed tomography and synchrotron scanning
What can we learn from the Baltic amber spider fauna?
Palaeoecology of the amber forest (quantitative studies)
Palaeoecology of the amber forest (qualitative studies)
The systematic catalogue
Taxonomic changes in Version 1.0
PART 2 (The Systematic Catalogue)
Annotated catalogue of spider species preserved in Baltic amber
ARANEIDAE (including Zygiellidae)
Index to genera
Dr David Penney has a PhD in fossil spiders preserved in amber, a DSc in amber palaeobiology and has published 100+ academic contributions over almost three decades of research in these areas. He has authored several books on fossil arachnids and inclusions preserved in amber.