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Tasmanian cave spider
Hickmania troglodytes by Rainbow.png
Scientific classification
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Hickmania is a monotypic genus of Australian cribellate araneomorph spiders in the family Austrochilidae, containing only the Tasmanian cave spider (Hickmania troglodytes). The genus was first described by Willis J. Gertsch in 1958, and has been found only in Tasmania. It is the last of an old Gondwanan lineage, long since separated from its closest relatives in South America. It is an icon species for faunal conservation in Tasmania, and is named in honor of a professor at the University of Tasmania who specialized in spiders. The species name is derived from the Ancient Greek τρωγλοδύτης (troglodytes), meaning "cave-dweller".

Description

Tasmanian cave spiders have red to brown carapaces and duller, darker brown opisthosomae. They can grow up to 1.3 to 2 centimetres (0.51 to 0.79 in) long, and can have a legspan of up to 18 centimetres (7.1 in). These primitive spiders use book lungs to breathe, seen as four light patches beneath the abdomen.

Males are smaller than females, and have a distinct kink-like curve near the end of each second leg used to hold the female's head while mating.

Neural arrangement in the pedipalps of male H. troglodytes is almost identical to the neural arrangement in the pedipalps of male running crab spiders Philodromus cespitum.

Tasmanian cave spiders are widely distributed throughout Tasmania, found in many dark, cool areas, including underground drainage and cave systems, the underside of bridges, and inside hollow logs. They build sheet webs up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) in diameter, and hang beneath it waiting for prey to fly or jump into their web. They have an unusually long lifetime for araneomorph spiders, sometimes living several decades.

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