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Norman I. Platnick, Ph.D.                                  Next >> Gillespie
Principal Investigator
Norman I. Platnick, Ph.D.
Peter J. Solomon Family Curator
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, New York
USA 10024

Adjunct Professor
Department of Biology
City University of New York

Adjunct Professor
Department of Entomology
Cornell University

Phone: 1-212-769-5212
Fax: 1-212-769-5277
PBI Role:
Principal investigator; Chair. Steering Committee; supervise Nearctic collections; fieldwork; monography; advise trainees
Professional Experience:
Dr. Platnick's research focuses primarily on the Australasian ground spiders of the superfamily Gnaphosoidea. With support from the National Science Foundation's Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Systematics program. (PEET). he and two postdoctoral fellows have been monographing the Australasian members of seven families.

Although they originally estimated that the 130 previously described species represent about 20% of the actual fauna. their estimate was off by at least 100%. The task of classifying the thousands of specimens available in existing and newly made collections has actually differed little. in principle. from trying to classify specimens collected on a little known planet! For example. the first monograph completed radically relimited the family Lamponidae. which had originally been proposed to contain just the 17 species of the single genus Lampona (best known as the white-tailed spiders. which have achieved notoriety as the supposed source of bites to humans that have led to severe necrosis).

Dr. Platnick's work showed that the lamponids are actually a diverse group. comprising three subfamilies. 22 genera. and 190 species. Of those taxa. two subfamilies. 17 genera. and 171 species were newly discovered. Aside from Lampona. the previously described members of the group had all been misplaced at either the family or superfamily level.

With the publication of this 330-page monograph. and its Internet version. the Lamponidae became (for the moment. at least) the third largest spider family in Australia. Work is continuing on the other families. as well as on a variety of phylogenetically significant spider taxa from around the world.
The American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with
The California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco   The University of California, Berkeley
The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago   George Washington University, Washington DC
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DEB 0613754. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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