Jörg Wunderlich

Personal Website

Welcome to the personal website of Jörg Wunderlich (*1939), arachnologist, biologist and palaeontologist in Germany.

Fascinated by their aesthetics, diversity, behaviour, and evolution I described several hundreds of species of spiders for the first time mainly from the Canary Islands and from fossils in amber.

I am highly interested in evolution and evolvolution (the possibilities and the limits of evolution) of biotic and abiotic systems as well as in economy and free thinking.

As editor and owner of the Publishing House Joerg Wunderlich I published several volumes of the "Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.)" on extant and fossil spiders, (see Books & Other Pub­lica­tions).

Jörg Wunderlich: Vita

Jörg Wunderlich

Private Laboratory of Arachnology. Editor of the Beiträge zur Araneo­logie (Beitr. Araneol.) (in English), author of ten books (see Books & Other Pub­lica­tions), and more than 100 papers on extant and fossil spiders (taxonomy, evolution, biogeography and behavior).

Member (e.g.) of the Arachno­logische Gesell­schaft, European Society of Arachnology, Inter­national Society of Arachnology, Palaeon­tologische Gesell­schaft.

Former student of (e.g.) Zoology, Botany, Geo­graphy, Philosophy and Political Science at the Free University in Berlin, taught biology for 25 years at a secondary modern school in Germany, and has published on extant and fossil spiders for more than fourty years.


The fossil spider of the year 2015

Spider of the year 2015 - fig 3 (selected by the editor and friends)

This peculiar male fossil spider, dorsal aspect, body length only 2.8 mm, lived 100 million years ago in a rain forest of Myanmar (Burma). It is first described as Burmadictyna excavata of the extinct Cretaceous family Salticoididae, a group of orb-web weaving spiders.

What is unique in this spider species? From certain structures of the male copulatory organ we can conclude a special mating behaviour of this species which is known to be similar in some spiders of today. This behaviour concerns the most important part of the male copularory organ, the EMBOLUS of the pedipalpus (see the drawing above) which has the main function of a penis: it transfers the sperm to the female copulatory organ.

The embolus of this fossil male has quite an unusual structure:

(a) It is coiled in 12 loops of spirals which build a long cylinder. I estimate that this genital part represents 3.5 (!) times the length of the spider’s body. No one knows the reason for the evolution of such a long introductory structure of the male genital organ, and how it was used by the spider!

(b) The apical part of the embolus (arrow in the drawing) is strongly modified and widened, bearing barbs in a harpoon-shaped structure. It has a basal constriction, which I regard to be connected with a breaking line in this area. – What about the function of this structure? Male spiders of several families of today – frequent are orb weavers – are known to possess a very special behaviour in connection with a peculiar part of their embolus: A part of this copulatory organ breaks off and is left within the genital duct of the female after copulation. Such a „mating plug“ is considered to prevent the intromission of sperm by other males, to secure the development of offsprings only of its own. Furthermore it is a peculiar case of GENITAL SELF-MUTILATION, and the same pedipalpus is probably not usable for a further copulation. Such structures exist at the end of both emboli in all the three known fossil males of this genus; so we may conlude that none of them did have sex. The present male (photo) is the first proof of such a behaviour in fossil spiders. It demonstrates that the use of mating plugs is a very old behaviour in spiders, dating back at least 100 million years.

See: Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 9, p. 3; MESOZOIC SPIDERS and other fossil Arachnids (the spider is described p. 314-317, photos 156-159.)

Books by the Publishing House Joerg Wunderlich - Beiträge zur Araneologie

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 1:
The Spider Fauna of the Macaronesian Islands

WUNDERLICH, J. (1992) (for 1991)

The Spider Fauna of the Macaronesian Islands. Die Spinnen-Fauna der Makaronesischen Inseln. Taxonomy, ecology, biogeography and evolution.

619 pp, 860 figs. (Remark: This is the second volume to - The Spiders of the Canary Islands and Madeira -, see below).

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 2:
The fossil Spiders in Dominican amber


The fossil Spiders in Dominican amber.
Die fossilen Spinnen im Dominikanischen Bernstein.

378 pp, 788 figs. and 89 photos.

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 3:
Fossil Spiders in Amber and Copal

Vol. 3
(click to enlarge)


Conclusions, revisions, new taxa, family diagnoses of fossil and extant taxa. Volumes A and B;

Besides a large popular "photo part" a scientific part is presented: Descriptions of about 400 new spider species, genera and families mainly in Baltic amber; revisions as well as identification keys; new findings e. g. on systematics, phylogenetics, palaeofaunas, palaeobiogeography, the palaeoclimate and palaeobiology (e. g. on fossil capture webs, spiders' prey, parasites, egg sacs, courtship and and moulting behaviour, camouflage/mimicry, autotomy) as well on fakes.

Reduced price now € 48.- (students less) + posting (previously € 96.-)

1908 pp, 696 coloured photos, ca. 1800 drawings.

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 4:
A collection of 62 papers

WUNDERLICH, J. (ed.) (1995) (for 1994)

Papers by different authors on taxonomy, phylogeny, ecology, biogeography and faunistics of extant (mainly) and fossil spiders (Araneae).

778 pp.

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 5:
Fossil and extant Spiders (Araneae)

Vol. 5
(click to enlarge)


Phylogeny, diversifications, extinctions, biogeography, ecology and ethology; with descriptions of new fossil and extant taxa.

870 pp, about 400 coloured photos and 1000 drawings.

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 6:
Extant and fossil Spiders (Araneae)

Vol. 6
(click to enlarge)


Extant and fossil Spiders (Araneae).

640 pp, more than 100 coloured photos. Additions to the volumes 3 and 5.

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 7:
Fifteen Papers on Extant and Fossil Spiders

Vol. 7
(click to enlarge)

Joerg Wunderlich (ed.); 2012

Fifteen Papers on Extant and Fossil Spiders.

364 pp, about 145 coloured photos.

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 8:
The Spider Families of Europe

Vol. 8
(click to enlarge)


The Spider Families of Europe: keys, diagnoses and diversity. A bilingual manual.

192 pp., 165 drawings; linked to 450 coloured photos in a separate volume.

Die Spinnen-Familien Europas: Bestimmung, Merkmale und Vielfalt. Ein zweisprachiges Handbuch.

192 Seiten, 165 Zeichnungen; verbunden mit 450 Farbfotos in einem gesonderten Band.

Beiträge zur Araneologie (Beitr. Araneol.), vol. 9:
MESOZOIC SPIDERS and other fossil Arachnids

Vol. 9
(click to enlarge)

WUNDERLICH, J. (ed.) (2015)

This book contains numerous new descriptions of taxa mainly in Cretaceous Burmese amber, including a new extinct family of spiders, a new extinct suborder of the arachnid order Ricinulei, the fossil spider of the year 2015, a proposed new classification of spiders, spider evolution, the biogeography and the behaviour of spiders, fossil spider faunas, extinction events etc.
Beitr. Araneol., 9 (2015)

512 pp, ca. 450 drawings and 212 coloured photos.

Further books by the Publishing House Joerg Wunderlich

BACHOFEN-ECHT, A. (1949) (reprint 1996):
Der Bernstein und seine Einschlüsse

Baltic amber and its inclusions. With an index and notes by J. WUNDERLICH. In German.

225 pages

WUNDERLICH, J. (1986):
Spinnenfauna gestern und heute

Fossil spiders and their living kin.

283 pp, 369 drawings; coloured photos.
In German, with English abstracts.

WUNDERLICH, J. (1987):
Die Spinnen der Kanarischen Inseln und Madeiras

The Spiders of the Canarian Islands and Madeira. Adaptive radiation, biogeography, revisions and descriptions of new species.

437 pp, 717 figs. In German.

Older papers (1969 ff)

See "The World Spider Catalog" by N. Platnick in the Internet.

Orders for the books

Orders (reduced prices for students and pensioners) to:

Publishing House Joerg Wunderlich

Oberer Haeuselbergweg 24
69493 Hirschberg

Mail: joergwunderlich@t-online.de


Jörg Wunderlich
Oberer Häuselbergweg 25
69493 Hirschberg

Private Laboratory of Arachnology

Mail: joergwunderlich@t-online.de