Hantu, a new spider genus from northern Borneo
(in press in Eur. J. Taxonomy)
 
When I collected the two species below in northern Borneo in 2014, I thought I was dealing with litter-dwelling representatives of the genus Aetana. In addition to the general similarity, also their geographic origin pointed towards this genus (ranging from Borneo and the Philippines to Fiji) rather than to other similar genera on the Southeast Asian mainland and Sumatra (Savarna; Khorata).

Photos: B.A. Huber

However, closer examination and cladistic analyses revealed that these two species were not only different from Aetana in many details but in fact closer to Khorata and Savarna (Huber, Nuñeza, Leh Moi Ung 2015). At the same time, the two species do not share any of the distinctive characters of Khorata and Savarna. As a consequence, I proposed them as a new genus, named for the Hantu Rimba, deep-forest ghosts in traditional Malaysian mythology.

Males of one species (Hantu kapit) have curiously modified 'heads', with two pairs of long horns arising from the eye triads (photos below). Unfortunately, we know nothing about the function of these horns and of many similar sexual modifications of male pholcid 'heads'.


(c) B.A. Huber