Quote Originally Posted by Mark Waterous View Post
I noticed the quotes in your title, and recall some mention to the effect elsewhere, of which I may have misread... but are we in some danger of the Genus being renamed, or perhaps just a subset of species currently described as Aphonopelma? If the answer is yes, either directly or by proxy, is there a paper somewhere online?
A fellow by the name of Dr. Brent Hendrixson at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi (USA) has had a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for the last several years supporting his work on the taxonomy of the North American Aphonopelma. There are several important things to note about this:

1) He's an official, card carrying, professional arachnologist, capable of doing reliable, believable work in the field. (Unlike a lot of the clumsy, semi-ignorant, poorly educated or self-educated pseudo-experts that have been mucking around and messing things up.)

2) He's good enough to have earned a big league research grant. (Not a kitchen, basement or garage, home brew operation.)

3) The results he publishes are subject to rigorous, scientific, peer review processes and are published in recognized scientific journals, not amateur newsletters, not pet hobbyist magazines, not self-published media releases, not comic books.

4) The scientific community at large is finally sitting up and taking notice of the fact that there is serious science out there to be pursued that INCLUDES spiders and tarantulas.

The last I spoke with Brent, he had found that of the nominal 52 or more species listed in Platnick's World Spider Catalog, perhaps fewer than 30 are valid. The others are invalid for a variety of reasons.

[NOTE: This is not to be construed as a criticism of Dr. Platnick's work. The World Spider Catalog merely reports and correlates taxonomic publications about spiders, serving as a central reference for arachnology as a whole. And, Dr. Platnick is doing a truly remarkable job considering the difficulties and complexities of the project. We do not shoot the messenger!]

And, during the course of his investigations Brent's lab has identified about a half dozen new species.

Thus, the real number of North American Aphonopelma according to modern standards of taxonomy (e.g., using DNA and other analyses) is going to end up at about three dozen, give or take.

But more importantly, his studies are going to reorganize our understanding of the genus. He says that when he finally publishes his magnum opus it's going to blow our socks off! We were THAT wrong in all our earlier assessments! When his final work is published a large number of our prejudices and beliefs, not to mention the names we've assumed were the King's truth, will change in a heartbeat.

We wait with bated breath.

"Our ignorance [about tarantulas] is staggering."
- S. A. Schultz, TKG3