Oman 2017
In March 2017 I made a short exploratory visit to Oman. Not that I expected to find a lot of pholcid spider diversity, but a few specimens available in collections suggested that there are in fact at least some interesting and undescribed species. Also, I was flying back from Sri Lanka, and Oman was kind of on the way.

What I found in a few days surpassed by far all my expectations. Not only was I deeply impressed by the beauty and diversity of landscapes, but I found pholcid spiders almost everywhere. To my knowledge, only one species of Pholcidae had previously been recorded from the country, but I found ten species, nine of them new to science. This is the highest percentage of new species I have ever had in any trip.

This trip tought me a lot about pholcids. In theory I had known before that pholcids occur in dry areas, but when I found them under relatively small hot rocks in the desert, far from any wadi, I was still highly surprised. At the spots shown above, I found Ninetis (left) and Artema (right).

These are the spiders I found at the localities shown above. Left: Artema, one of the largest pholcids worldwide; right: Ninetis (adult male!), one of the smallest pholcids. However, most diversity in the Oman seems to be in the genus Crossopriza. I found six species, all new, with a surprising range of body shapes (below). Results on Artema have been published in Huber & Carvalho 2019, those on Crossopriza in Huber 2022.

I thank Prof. Reginald Victor (Sultan Qaboos University, Muskat) for helping with preparations, and Ibrahim Al Zakwani for accompanying me in the field. Financial support was provided by ZFMK.