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Dimitar Dimitrov and Gustavo Hormiga
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taxon links [down<--]Tetragnathidae Interpreting the tree
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Tree from Álvarez-Padilla et al. (2009)
Containing group: Tetragnathidae


Metainae includes the genera Meta, Metellina, Dolichognatha, Chrysometa and Diphya (Álvarez-Padilla et al., 2009). Taxonomically, this group has proved to be the most unstable lineage within the family, and its composition has changed, sometimes considerably, across different phylogenetic analyses. Simon (1894) used the name Metinae for a group of similar composition.


Metaines are distinguished from other tetragnathids by the well sclerotized spermathecae and fertilization ducts; the short copulatory ducts (shorter than half the spermathecae length, which in some taxa, such as Meta menardi, are almost non existent); the wide separation of the spermathecae (more than two spermatheca diameters); and an ecto-basal cymbial process shaped as a cuticular flat outgrowth (this process can be massive in some species). All Metainae have just a single embolic apophysis, known as the "metine embolic apophysis." Similar embolic apophyses are also found in Cyrtognatha and Allende.

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Left: Web of Chrysometa alajuela. Right: Web of Dolichognatha. Images © 2006 Gustavo Hormiga

Metainae build a diversity of orbwebs. In some species, like Dolichognatha (shown on the right picture), the webs are horizontal and very dense (i.e., with many spiral turns and radii, including secondary radii). Meta species, such as M. menardi, build rather flimsy orbs, with few radii and spiral turns, despite the large size of these animals. Members of the large Neotropical genus Chrysometa build vertical orb webs with two sectors missing the sticky spiral turns and with a "telegraph line" running from the hub to a retreat.

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

The Metainae cladogram presented here is based on the morphological and molecular analysis of Álvarez-Padilla at al. (2009). Metainae are more closely related to the Nanometa clade and Leucaugines than to Tetragnathinae. However, the limits of the Metainae remain unclear, as the composition of this lineage is very unstable and sensitive to different data treatments. At present this subfamily includes the genera Meta, Metellina, Dolichognatha, Chrysometa and Diphya.


Álvarez-Padilla F., Dimitrov D., Giribet G., Hormiga G. 2009. Phylogenetic relationships of the spider family Tetragnathidae (Araneae, Araneoidea) based on morphological and DNA sequence data. Cladistics (In press).

Simon E. 1894. Histoire naturelle des araignées. Paris, 1: 489-760.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Metellina segmentata
Location Berlin, Grunewald, Germany
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Identified By K.-H. Kielhorn, Berlin
Source File:Metellina_segmentata_070820.jpg
Source Collection Wikimedia Commons
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License - Version 3.0.
Copyright © Rainer Altenkamp, Berlin
About This Page

Dimitar Dimitrov
Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen

Gustavo Hormiga
George Washington University, Washington, D. C., USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Dimitar Dimitrov at and Gustavo Hormiga at

Page: Tree of Life Metainae. Authored by Dimitar Dimitrov and Gustavo Hormiga. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Dimitrov, Dimitar and Gustavo Hormiga. 2009. Metainae. Version 09 March 2009 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Metainae/134627/2009.03.09 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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