The Crato Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of Brazil is well known for an exceptionally preserved terrestrial arthropod fossil assemblage. Spiders are relatively abundant, but few have been formally described. A fossil spider belonging to the family Palpimanidae, araneophageous ground-dwelling spiders with distinctly robust front legs, is preserved with the dorsal side hidden within the rock matrix. For the first time, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) was used to image a fossil spider preserved in a rock matrix, to reveal the dorsal side of this specimen, revealing the eye arrangement, a useful taxonomic character in most spiders, and a deflated abdomen, likely the result of taphonomic processes. The specimen possesses other distinguishing characteristics of Palpimanidae, including an inflated first leg femur, a heavily sclerotized scutum, and a reduced number of spinnerets (2) surrounded by a sclerotized ring. The spider has eight eyes with the lateral pairs extremely close together, a trait suggestive of the subfamily Chediminae. The specimen also possesses an unusual first leg patella with a retrolateral excavation and a thorn-like projection. A new genus is erected, and the spider is named Cretapalpus vittari gen. et sp. nov. A phylogenetic analysis including extant species from each of the subfamilies within Palpimanidae places the fossil at the base of Chediminae + Otiothopinae. This is the earliest reported fossil palpimanid and first chedimine from South America. A fossil chedimine in South America is not surprising because the South American and African plates were still relatively close during the Early Cretaceous.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1