COMMON and SCIENTIFIC NAME CORRELATIONS
of the THERAPHOSID TARANTULAS
STANLEY A. SCHULTZ AND MARGUERITE J. SCHULTZ
THESE ARE NOT OFFICIAL LISTS OF COMMON NAMES!
These lists are cross references between all those common names used in the pet industry and the arachnoculture hobby that the authors are aware of, correlated to one or more scientific names. Entries are restricted to those names published on the Internet, on dealers’ price lists and in the hobbyist or professional literature.
These lists are not to be used as a source for common names for kinds of tarantulas new to science or the arachnoculture hobby. These lists are intended to be used only in the attempt to identify a tarantula that was ascribed a common name but whose identity is questionable.
These lists are not to be used as a cross reference for scientific name synonymies. Use Dr. Norman Platnick’s web-based list at http://research.amnh.org/entomology/spiders/catalog/THERAPHOSIDAE.html for that purpose.
These lists are presented as tools to help the enthusiast identify a tarantula of questionable or unknown species. If you were given either a common or scientific name, you merely look up either or both in the appropriate list or lists. Beware of the possible variations, combinations and permutations. There is no rhyme nor reason to most common names and scientific names are most commonly misspelled by the pet industry and the layman. Below are some guidelines in this respect.
For many common names more than one scientific name is quoted, and for many scientific names many common names may be given. These merely represent possibilities, not official designations, and the enthusiast is warned to be ever skeptical. In the world of common names there are no guarantees.
By way of example, Aphonopelma chalcodes may be referred to as the "Arizona blond," "palomino," "cinnamon" or "Mexican blonde," among others. And “black velvet tarantula” has been used to identify an unidentified black tarantula from Central America, Brachypelma vagans from Central America and southern Mexico, and Haplopelma minax from Thailand. The enthusiast who is attempting to identify a tarantula should be ever mindful of such multiple correlations.
In the interests of saving space and our collective mental health the common names listed here have been truncated by removing the terms "spider," "tarantula," "bird spider," "bird eating" and "bird eater" from their end as these would needlessly increase the bulk of these lists. In addition, the term "tree spider" is commonly applied to any tarantula of presumed arboreal habit and is also dropped from these lists. Because of the arbitrary, undisciplined creation and application of most common names for tarantulas, these terms are often used interchangeably, with or without enclosed hyphens or spaces.
Having said that, the term “tarantula” may safely and appropriately be appended to any of the common names on these lists and there are those who would strongly urge that it be made a recommended practice in lieu of the other terms.
Similarly, the term "pinktoe" may safely be added to the end of the Avicularia species' common names. The singular exception is Avicularia avicularia which is known simply as the "pinktoe."
The pet industry and enthusiasts often connect multiple word names with hyphens, slashes and commas, and sometimes join them together to mimic the conventions adopted by the American Arachnological Society's Common Names Committee (see below). These have been replaced by spaces in these lists. Thus, “red rump,” "red-rump" and "redrump" are all listed as "red rump."
Further, the American Arachnological Society's Common Names Committee frequently combines otherwise separate words to meet the requirements of their naming conventions and uses these in their list of common names (available free at http://atshq.org/articles/acn5.pdf). In this list we separate them into individual, space delineated words for purposes of alphabetization. Thus, "white collared" is used here, even though the approved form is "whitecollared."
Thus, when searching for a common name in these lists, a good beginning strategy would be to follow the conventions outlined above.
If the name cannot be found directly, look under different variations, perhaps ignoring the place of origin or rearranging the words. Your creativity may often be your best defence against an almost maddening plethora of possibilities. Thus, while you may not find "Texas red rump gold carapace," you may find several possibilities under "red rump" or "gold carapace." If you are using your computer's web browser to view these lists (as opposed to a printed copy) do not fail to use the browser's search function to locate instances of important key character strings in the names.
The persistence and resourcefulness that enthusiasts and the pet industry have displayed in inventing new common names is truly astounding, and these lists threaten to grow in a commensurate fashion. Every effort will be made to update these lists several times a year. The last such update is listed at the top of this page in magenta type.
Tarantulas are among the world’s most difficult creatures to photograph. Because they are covered by a thick layer of setae, virtually a velveteen cloak, they absorb most light that strikes them. In order to see any detail, photographs must be severely overexposed. Such overexposure often alters colour and contrast balances, emphasizes obscure details not otherwise obvious to the naked eye, and obscures otherwise obvious characters in a white blaze.
In addition, published pictures are often artificially doctored to emphasize special qualities, a blue iridescence being the most common victim, thus presenting an exaggerated, almost ludicrous parody of the original animal.
Thus, one of the surest ways to get an identification wrong is to “picture key” the tarantula. When attempting to identify a tarantula from photographs the best that can be said is that photos may help to eliminate some potential candidates but should never be used to assign an identity. Lastly, photographs should never be relied upon in any authoritative or professional identification.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED
Do you have some dealer’s antiquated price lists filed away somewhere? Have you seen a website that sports a unique, “I did it my way” attitude in naming tarantulas? Dealers and enthusiasts are encouraged to send additions and corrections to the authors in care of the American Tarantula Society at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember, however, that we are restricting entries to those that have appeared in the published word, e.g., on price lists and in hobbyist or professional publications, in print or on the Internet. Merely spoken names are not used because they hold no lasting record.
We will make every effort to promptly correct errors, changes in spelling or changes in classification as they are reported to us.
AND NOW TO THE LISTS
These are actually all just the same list sorted alphabetically four different ways. Each version has its distinct advantages and uses.
Common name, then by genus, then by species. Given that, in North America at least, common names are virtually always used by the retail pet industry, this will probably be the most useful version for the enthusiast.
Genus, then by species, then by common name. The entries are arranged in the same order as they are listed in Dr. Platnick’s list. If you have a genus name perhaps you can locate the species by searching through this list. Remember that most scientific names are misspelled, often grievously, by the pet industry and the layman. Consider all possible spelling variations. Subsidiary species that may be extant in the hobby would be listed in a group under their genus name. This list may be of most use to Europeans because they seldom use common names, even in the pet industry.
Species, then by genus, then by common name. If you have a scientific name (genus and species) and the genus name can’t be found in these lists, perhaps you can locate possible identities by searching for some variation of the species name. Remember that most scientific names are misspelled, often grievously, by the pet industry and the layman. Consider all possible spelling variations.
Subfamily, then by genus, then by species. This provides interesting correlations between closely related tarantulas that may not be very apparent under other circumstances.
WE'VE ADDED ANOTHER LIST!
In this list we itemize the relationships between the 113 or so genera and the subfamilies they are normally put in. The scheme we present isn't accepted by all authorities and there are exceptions to several general rules, so read the introductory page first.
© 2004, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz. All copyrights are hereby transferred to The American Tarantula Society. This document was first created 2004-Sept-08. The latest revision date appears immediately below the title.
In their current form these lists are covered by international copyright law. However, brief passages may be quoted for illustrative purposes, and the correlations are a matter of public record and therefore not covered by copyright. If you use these lists in the preparation of other publications (including webpages) please include credits.