Norman I. Platnick


Norman Ira Platnick (December 30, 1951 – April 8, 2020) was an American biological systematist and
arachnologist Arachnology is the science, scientific study of spiders and related animals such as scorpions, Pseudoscorpionida, pseudoscorpions, and Opiliones, harvestmen, collectively called arachnids. Those who study spiders and other arachnids are arachnol ...
. At the time of his death, he was a
Professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or tertiary education, tertiary higher education, hig ...

Emeritus ''Emeritus'' (; female: ''Emerita''), in its current usage, is an adjective used to designate a retired chair, professor, pastor, bishop, pope, director, president, prime minister, rabbi, emperor, or other person who has been "permitted to retai ...
of the Richard Gilder Graduate School and Peter J. Solomon Family Curator Emeritus of the invertebrate zoology department of the American Museum of Natural History. A 1973 Ph.D. recipient at
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
, Platnick described over 1,800 species of
spider Spiders (order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, and the ...

s from around the world, making him the second most prolific spider taxonomist in history, behind only
Eugène Simon Eugène Louis Simon (30 April 1848 – 17 November 1924) was a French naturalist who worked particularly on insects and spiders, but also on birds and plants. He is by far the most prolific spider Taxonomy (biology), taxonomist in history, d ...
. Until 2014 he was also the maintainer of the
World Spider Catalog The World Spider Catalog (WSC) is an online searchable database concerned with spider Taxonomy (biology), taxonomy. It aims to list all accepted families, genera and species, as well as provide access to the related taxonomic literature. The WSC b ...
, a website formerly hosted by the AMNH which tracks the arachnology literature, and attempts to maintain a comprehensive list, sorted taxonomically, of every species of spider which has been formally described. In 2007 he received the International Society of Arachnology's Bonnet award, named for Pierre Bonnet, in recognition of his work on the catalog. Platnick was recognized as a world leader in
spider taxonomy Spider taxonomy is that part of taxonomy (biology), taxonomy that is concerned with the science of naming, defining and classifying all spiders, members of the Araneae order (biology), order of the Arthropoda, arthropod class (biology), class Arach ...
. Dr. Quentin D. Wheeler stated "He is the best arachnologist of his generation, has published more monographs and nomenclatural contributions than anyone, period." Platnick was one of the founding members of the
Willi Hennig Society The Willi Hennig Society "was founded in 1980 with the expressed purpose of promoting the field of cladistics, phylogenetic systematics." The society is represented by phylogenetic systematists managing and publishing in the peer-reviewed journal t ...
and its fourth President (1991–1992). His contributions to theoretical cladistics, such as his 1981 book, Systematics and Biogeography: Cladistics and Vicariance (coauthored with Gareth Nelson), are also highly regarded. Platnick's later undertaking involved the goblin spiders of Oonopidae as a part of the Planetary Biodiversity Inventory, a project which includes scientific institutions from across the world. There are currently about 1,600 recorded species in 114 genera, but estimates have been placed as high as 2,500; the project aims to flesh out the recorded species list and gain a more exact picture of the family's Phylogeny through DNA analysis. Platnick died April 8, 2020 of complications following a fall. He is commemorated in the names of 8 genera and over 50 species of invertebrates.

Notable publications

* (1973): A Revision of the North American Spiders of the Family Anyphaenidae. Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University. * & (1979): A revision of the spider family Mecicobothriidae (Araneae, Mygalomorphae)." ''American Museum Novitates'' 2687''
Abstract, PDF
* . & (1981): ''Systematics and biogeography: cladistics and vicariance.'' Columbia University Press, New York. 567 pp. * (1990): Spinneret Morphology and the Phylogeny of Ground Spiders (Araneae, Gnaphosoidea). ''American Museum Novitates'' 2978: 1–42
PDF (33Mb)
* , , , and (1991): Spinneret Morphology and the Phylogeny of Haplogyne Spiders (Araneae, Araneomorphae). ''American Museum Novitates'' 3016: 1–73
PDF (50Mb)
* (1998): Advances in Spider Taxonomy 1992–1995, with Redescriptions 1940–1980. ''New York Entomological Society'' 976 pp. * , , & (1999): Towards a Phylogeny of Entelegyne Spiders (Araneae, Araneomorphae, Entelegynae). ''Journal of Arachnology'' 27: 53–63.'

from: Cracraft, J. & Grifo, F.T. (eds.) (1999). The Living Planet In Crisis – Biodiversity Science and Policy. ''Columbia University Press''. * (2000): A Relimitation and Revision of the Australasian Ground Spider Family Lamponidae (Araneae: Gnaphosoidea). ''Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History'' 245: 1–330.
Web version

Abstract, PDF
* (2020): Spiders of the World. A Natural History Edited by Platnick''Princeton University Press''


External links

Official website at AMNH

* from the AMNH 1951 births 2020 deaths People from Bluefield, West Virginia Scientists from West Virginia American arachnologists Harvard University alumni People associated with the American Museum of Natural History {{US-zoologist-stub