Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Cyclosa
Species: Cyclosa conica

Descriptions of Classification:
There is careful thought that goes into naming a human being and odds are your name was chosen very carefully from a long list. The name that won out among the rest had some sort of sentimental value to your parents, whether it was based off of someone else in your family, or had a special meaning. Just like naming a human is a daunting process, there are specific and meticulous reasons and thoughts that go into your classifying and naming an organism. This section will aim to clarify the reasoning behind
Cyclosa's classification among the tree of life and how it got its name!

The possession of a true nucleus and membrane-bound organelles places this spider among this domain of life.

Cyclosa conica is considered Animalia due to its multicellularity, heterotrophic lifestyle, motility at some stage in development, and lack of a structural cell wall. Let's take a moment and break down some of the complex ideas behind what makes an organism a part of the Animalia Kingdom.

With multicellularity comes many benefits and drawbacks. Having better nutrition, a larger nutrient reserve, a protected internal environment, and the possibility for separation of functions seems like an evolutionary no-brainer right? Wrong! The surface area-to-volume ratio creates major constraints on this cellular arrangement! Remember, there still has to be a way for the nutrients this organism acquires to get to the cells and the wastes that need removal to exit the body. Next, comes the concept of a heterotrophic lifestyle. This means that Animalia members eat other organisms to gain the energy and nutrients they need. There is a ton of adaptations among phyla to accommodate this lifestyle strategy. Motility is the ability to move. Whether, this is accomplished in an organism's adult stage for functions such as predation, or in earlier stages of development, this is a key aspect of what it means to be an animal. Cell walls are like straitjackets of support that don't allow for much movement and flexibility. Animals however, are free of this structural component so a high range of movement and flexibility becomes possible.



This organism is an arthropod because of its chitinous exoskeleton, ecdyis molting process, segmented body, bilateral symmetry, paired and jointed appendages, protostome development, and triploblastic body plan. We understand that this is a mouthful, so let us break it down into a simpler understanding.


Chitin is a polymer of glucose, or a long string of sugar. This allows for the arthropods, including the Cyclosa conica, to have a lightweight, flexible, and water-resistant exoskeleton. This exoskeleton is an external skeleton that allows for support and muscle attachment. We like to think of an exoskeleton as similar to the armor of the infamous superhero Iron Man! Ecdysis is a molting process, where this "armor" is shed to allow the organism to grow. Segmented bodies are really advantageous and have been considered a major reason for the success surrounding Arthropods. Segmentation allows for separation of functions, and lots of movement. What does it mean to have bilateral symmetry? This translates to the idea that the Cyclosa can be divided along one plane of symmetry to have two equal parts! The jointed appendages are basically a positive an attribute due to the range of motion they provide. Protostome development refers to the way an organism develops as an embryo. Being a protostome means that your mouth forms before the anus. Having a triploblastic body plan refers to the tissues present in the embryo. Triploblasts have three tissues the ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm. The mesoderm is located is unique to the triploblastic species and develops into the bones, muscles, and circulatory system.


Synapomorphies that link this spider to this class are a terrestrial habitat, book lungs, and six pairs of appendages including four pairs of legs, a pair of pedipalps, and a pair of chelicerae (Campbell et al. 2008).


Book lungs look like folded pages of a book and are composed of air pockets and compartments that house fluids. Pedipalps, are incredibly important structures for reproduction, sensing the environment, and feeding purposes that are found in the mouth region of Arachnids. The chelicerae look like fangs and are oftentimes used as structures to attack prey.

What classifies this spider in this order are its lack of wings and antennae, predatory lifestyle, and lifecycle stages that proceed from egg to spiderling to adult (Texas A&M Agrilife Extension n.d.).


These characteristics are more self-explanatory than the ones we’ve previously seen, but if you are interested in learning more about the Cyclosa’s predatory lifestyle check out the interactions page.

This spider is classified in this class because of their eight eyes, their tendency to capture prey in webs, their ability to spin orb webs, and the consumption of males after reproduction (University of Illinois n.d.). An example of an organism of this class that lives in my town, La Crosse, WI, is the Gasteracantha cacriformis.

 The shared characteristics among Cyclosa spiders include a narrow head, PME's that are close together, and a unique groove that is shaped like the letter U (Keswani 1963). These are also considered trash line orb weavers due to the composition of their webs (BugGuide 2012).

PME’s are extremely complex and can be simply be understood as a type of enzyme. This means that they catalyze reactions that occur in Cyclosa bodies and make life possible for these organisms. Trash line orb weaver is considered the common name for our organism! This name comes from the tendency of the spider to include bits of prey and debris into its orb web (Blackledge et al. 2005).

Cyclosa conica:
There isn’t much that separates the Cyclosa conica from the rest of the genus. They have one or two large hairs called setae that are placed on the base of the front legs of the organism and a cone-shaped body (BugGuide 2012).


Etymology: Origin of the name Cyclosa conica:

Cyclosa:    circle or ring                  conica   Cone-shaped   

These words were carefully chosen with special meanings to identify this spider. The circle portion pertains to the way the spider generates the web in an orb shape, whereas the word conica refers to its body shape (Online Etymology Dictionary n.d.).

This is a phylogeny of orders

This is a phylogeny that represents the class Arachnida. As we can see, this class includes many orders of organisms, including Araneae which is where our beloved Cyclosa can be found. This is a more specific classification of the Arthropod phylum. Many Arthropods include insects, crustaceans, spiders, and milipedes. This tree is aiming to focus in on only the spider aspect of this classificaiton and break down those relationships. We can see that the Araneae where our Cyclosa can be found is closely related to tailless whipscorpions, whiptailed scorpions, and the Schizomida. In summary, we can conclude that spiders are closely related to scropions.


This is a phylogeny

This phylogeny is in place to break down the family Araneidae into its subsequent genuses. There would be a plethora of genuses present, so in order to maintain cleanliness and organization among the tree the Cyclosa's were grouped into a Coxal Hook Clade. The Coxal Hook Clade containing the Cyclosa forms has a sister taxa, the Dolophones. This tree is basically showing where the Cyclosa resides within the evolutionary relatedness of orb-weaving spiders.

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