Oman 2018
After my short exploratory visit to Oman in 2017, I came back in February 2018 with more time, especially for the Dhofar Region that I had not visited in 2017. I was better prepared this time, knowing that pholcids would be almost everywhere, even in the dryest and most improbable places. This turned out to be true. A total of 19 species of Pholcidae (not counting synanthropic species) may not sound much, but considering the facts that (1) not a single named pholcid species had been published for Oman and that (2) 16 of the 19 species were new to science, this is quite a surprising diversity. As expected, the Dhofar Region has a significantly different pholcid fauna than the east of the contry. Except for the widespread Ninetis subtilissima, none of the species found in Oman occurs both in Dhofar and in the east.

These are three very large new species of the genus Artema from Oman. Together with A. doriae, this makes four species in Oman, in a genus that currently counts only 8 species. It seems that with respect to Artema, Oman is about the centre of diversity. Results on Artema were published in Huber & Carvalho 2019.

Curiously, much the same seems to be the case with the tiny (1 mm body length) spiders of the genus Ninetis and its close relative, the newly described genus Magana. Shown above is Magana velox (left), the widespread Ninetis subtilissima (second from left), and two new species of Ninetis from Oman. No other country in the Old World is known to contain more than one species of Ninetis. Interestingly, the Omani species differ much more from each other morphologically than all other species of Ninetis from Namibia, Malawi, East Africa, Cameroon, and Madagascar. 

I thank Prof. Reginald Victor (Sultan Qaboos University, Muskat) for helping with preparations, and Alexander Koenig Stiftung (AKS, ZFMK) for financial support.