Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Research Article

The affinities of the Carboniferous whip spider Graeophonus anglicus Pocock, 1911 (Arachnida: Amblypygi)

Jason A. Dunlopa1, George R. S. Zhoua2 and Simon J. Braddya2

a1 Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Invalidenstraße 43, D-10115, Berlin, Germany E-mail:

a2 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Bristol, BS8 1RJ, UK


The Late Carboniferous whip spider Graeophonus anglicus Pocock, 1911 (Arachnida: Amblypygi), is redescribed on the basis of the holotype and nine other specimens all preserved in sideritic nodules from the British Middle Coal Measures of Coseley, Staffordshire, UK. This species is clearly basal with respect to most living whip spiders, expressing numerous plesiomorphic character states and can be referred to both the suborder Paleoamblypygi and the ‘living fossil’ family Paracharontidae (with one Recent species), the latter based on an explict character of dorsal spination on the pedipalp femur. This suggests that crown-group Amblypygi originated by at least the mid-Palaeozoic.

Key Words:

  • Arthropoda;
  • Chelicerata;
  • Coseley;
  • Coal Measures;
  • Duckmantian