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Sabacon Simon 1879

Axel Schönhofer
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Containing group: Sabaconidae


Sabacon presently comprises the largest genus within the Dyspnoi, in terms of validly described species (compare Trogulus and Paranemastoma). Animals are peculiar for their inflated palps densely set with specialized bottlebrush hairs, and a tarsus with dorsal and ventral movement. Male genital morphology is highly characteristic. The penis base is bent from the axis of the truncus and split into a bifurcate fork with the penial muscle situated between the branches and not enclosed within the truncus. A muscular tendon runs from the muscle towards the glans, which is movable against the truncus in several species. These genital morphological peculiarities have been seen as genus level characteristics (Shear 1986) but should be reevaluated in view of a systematic that is traditionally based on genital morphology within the Dyspnoi.

As a generic lineage, Sabacon is unusual within the dispersal limited Dyspnoi for showing a wide and disjunct distribution within the Holarctic, otherwise found only at the family level. Centers of endemism are known from western Europe, eastern and western North America, and several hot spots in Asia (Nepal, China, Japan, Russia), where the wealth of diversity probably still remains to be discovered.

Taxonomy and Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Close relationship to Taracus and Hesperonemastoma has been proposed but is weakly supported and phylogenetic analyses show Sabacon in an isolated position within the Ischyropsalidoidea (Giribet et al. 2010). The morphological diversity within Sabacon is high concerning palpal and cheliceral apophyses and genital morphology. Several different functional penis types exist; a system comparable with the Nemastomatinae and a thorough reinvestigation concerning this divergence may reveal a similar system that needs to be accounted for. Tomicomerus bryantii, now included in Sabacon, seems to show a different genital morphological setting (Shear 1975), while material for a comprehensive reinvestigation is necessary. Many Sabacon species are known from a few individuals only, and Sabacon diversity is probably largely underexplored as animals are rare and difficult to collect.

Ecology and Life History

Sabacon requires high and constant humidity along with cool temperatures. Species are restricted to dense forests of different composition, caves or high alpine habitats mostly in combination with and close to running water. Dispersal abilities seem low, although many species are fairly long-legged. Many species have a distinct phenology and mature late in autumn, which renders adult specimens scarcely available for studies.


Abbott, R. H. R. 1981. A new opilionid to Great Britain. Newsletter of the British arachnological Society 30:4-4a.

Cokendolpher, J. C. 1984. A new species of Sabacon Simon from Oregon (Arachnida: Opiliones: Sabaconidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology 62:989-991.

Dresco, E. 1970. Recherches sur la variabilité et la phylogénie chez les Opiliones du genre Ischyropsalis C. L. Koch (Fam. Ischyropsalidae), avec la création de la famille nouvelle des Sabaconidae. Bulletin du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 2e Serie 41:1200-1213.

Dunlop, J.A. 2006. Baltic amber harvestman types (Arachnida: Opiliones: Eupnoi and Dyspnoi). Fossil Record 9:167-182.

Giribet, G., Vogt, L. Pérez-González, A., Sharma, P. and A. B. Kury. 2010. A multilocus approach to harvestman (Arachnida: Opiliones) phylogeny with emphasis on biogeography and the systematics of Laniatores. Cladistics 26:408-437.

Lopez, A., Emerit, M. and M. Rambla. 1980. Contribution à l'etude de Sabacon paradoxum Simon 1879 (Opiliones, Palpatores, Ischyropsalidae). Stations nouvelles, particularités électro-microscopiques du prosoma et de ses appendices. Comptes Rendus de la Vième Colloque d’Arachnologie d’Expression Française, 1979, Barcelona 9:147-158.

Martens, J. 1972. Opiliones aus dem Nepal-Himalaya. I. Das Genus Sabacon Simon (Arachnida: Ischyropsalididae). Senckenbergiana biologica 53:307-323.

Martens, J. 1983. Europäische Arten der Gattung Sabacon Simon 1879 (Arachnida: Opiliones: Sabaconidae). Senckenbergiana biologica 63:265-296.

Martens, J. 1989. Sibirische Arten der Gattung Sabacon Simon (Arachnida: Opiliones: Sabaconidae). Senckenbergiana biologica 69:369-377.

Menge, A. 1854. Footnotes. In: Koch, C. L. and G.C. Berendt (eds.) Die im Bernstein befindlichen Crustaceen, Myriapoden, Arachniden und Apteren der Vorwelt. Edwin Groening, Berlin.

Roewer, C. F. 1939. Opilioniden im Bernstein. Palaeobiologica 7:1-5.

Shear, W. A. 1975. The opilionid genera Sabacon and Tomicomerus in America (Opiliones, Troguloidea, Ischyropsalidae). The Journal of Arachnology 3:5-29.

Shear, W. A. 1986. A cladistic analysis of the opilionid superfamily Ischyropsalidoidea, with description of the new family Ceratolasmatidae, the new genus Acuclavella and four new species. American Museum Novitates 2844:1-29.

Suzuki, S. 1974. The Japanese species of the genus Sabacon (Arachnida, Opiliones, Ischyropsalididae). Journal of Science of the Hiroshima University, Series B, Division 1 (Zoology) 25:83-108.

Thaler, K. 1976. Two remarkable relict arachnids from northern Italy: Sabacon simoni Dresco (Opiliones, Ischyropsalididae), Louisfagea rupicola (Simon) (Araneae, Tetragnathidae). Bulletin of the British arachnological Society 3:205-210.

Tsurusaki, N. and D. Song. 1993. Two new species of Sabacon from Sichuan Province, China (Arachnida: Opiliones: Sabaconidae) Zoological Science 10:155-159.

Title Illustrations
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Scientific Name Sabacon simoni
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Identified By Axel Schoenhofer
Sex f
Life Cycle Stage adult
Copyright © 2011 Axel Schönhofer
Scientific Name Sabacon viscayanum ramblaianum
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Identified By Axel Schoenhofer
Sex f
Life Cycle Stage adult
Copyright © 2011 Axel Schönhofer
About This Page
Many thanks to Angela DiDomenico for the final English check.

Axel Schönhofer
San Diego States University, San Diego, California, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Axel Schönhofer at

Page: Tree of Life Sabacon Simon 1879. Authored by Axel Schönhofer . 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:

Schönhofer , Axel. 2012. Sabacon Simon 1879. Version 08 July 2012 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Sabacon/60688/2012.07.08 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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