The Seychellois spider genus Cenemus
Published in Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny, 2023

After reviewing most Smeringopinae genera over the last 10 years, the endemic Seychellois genus Cenemus has been the last major mystery regarding relationships within the subfamily. Morphologically, the genus is mainly characterized by plesiomorphies, which resulted in weakly supported and unstable positions in previous cladistic analyses of morphological data. Molecular data have not previously been available.

Here we revise the morphology of the type species Cenemus culiculus, including first SEM photos, and present the first molecular data for the genus. Morphology and molecules continue to give conflicting results regarding the sister taxon of Cenemus, but our analyses strongly support a position of the genus within the northern group of Smeringopinae (Northern Africa and the Mediterranean to India) rather than in the southern group (Subsahara Africa). This supports the idea that Cenemus is an ancient taxon, dating back to the breakup of Gondwana, between the separation of the Mascarene platform from Madagascar (~85 mya) and its separation from India (~60 mya).