Norman I. Platnick†

Norman I. Platnick, In Memoriam 1951-2020

A bearded man indoors, smiling and placing a large arachnid on the extended arm of another person.


  • Harvard University, Ph.D., 1973
  • Michigan State University, M.S., 1970
  • Concord College , B.S., 1968

Research Interests

Dr. Platnick’s research focused on the spider family Oonopidae (the goblin spiders). He headed a National Science Foundation-funded Planetary Biodiversity Inventory project, the goal of which was to complete a global revision of these spiders. Over 45 arachnologists in 12 countries were involved in the project. Although only about 500 species of these small spiders had been described when the project began, that number is now over 1,000. It is estimated that about 2,500 species in this family exist. The geographic ranges of these species is small. Thus, they are likely to be highly informative for studying historical biogeography and establishing conservation priorities.


Division of Invertebrate Zoology

Richard Gilder Graduate School

World Spider Catalog

Oonopid Planetary Biodiversity Inventory


Platnick, N. I., and  W. J. Gertsch.  1976.  The suborders of spiders: A cladistic analysis (Arachnida, Araneae).  Amer. Mus. Novitates, no. 2607, pp. 1-15, figs. 1-18. 

Nelson, G., and N. I. Platnick.  1981.  Systematics and biogeography: Cladistics and vicariance.  Columbia University Press, New York, xi + 567 pp.

Forster, R. R., and N. I. Platnick.  1985.  A review of the austral spider family Orsolobidae (Arachnida, Araneae), with notes on the superfamily Dysderoidea.  Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 181, pp. 1-229, figs. 1-889.

Forster, R. R., N. I. Platnick, and M. R. Gray.  1987.  A review of the spider superfamilies Hypochiloidea and Austrochiloidea (Araneae, Araneomorphae).  Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 185, pp. 1-116, figs. 1-400.

Platnick, N. I., J. A. Coddington, R. R. Forster, and C. E. Griswold.  1991.  Spinneret morphology and the phylogeny of haplogyne spiders (Araneae, Araneomorphae).  Amer. Mus. Novitates, no. 3016, pp. 1-73, figs. 1-311, tables 1-3.

Platnick, N. I.  1991.  Advances in spider taxonomy 1988-1991, with synonymies and transfers 1940-1980.  New York: New York Entomological Society, v + 846 pp.

Platnick, N. I.  1999.  Dimensions of biodiversity: targeting megadiverse groups.  In Cracraft, J. and F. T. Grifo (eds.), The Living Planet in Crisis: Biodiversity Science and Policy.  Columbia Univ. Press, New York, pp. 33-52.

Platnick, N. I.  2002.  A revision of the Australasian ground spiders of the families Ammoxenidae, Cithaeronidae, Gallieniellidae, and Trochanteriidae (Araneae: Gnaphosoidea).  Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 271, pp. 1-243, figs. 1-661, maps 1-50.

Platnick, N. I., and N. Dupérré.  2010.  The Andean goblin spiders of the new generaNiarchosandScaphios(Araneae, Oonopidae).   Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 345, pp. 1-120, figs. 1-920.

Platnick, N. I., N. Abrahim, F. Álvarez-Padilla, D. Andriamalala, B.C. Baehr, L. Baert, A.B. Bonaldo, A.D. Brescovit, N. Chousou-Polydouri, N. Dupérré, B. Eichenberger, W. Fannes, E. Gaublomme, R.G. Gillespie, C.J. Grismado, C.E. Griswold, M.S. Harvey, A. Henrard, G. Hormiga, M.A. Izquierdo, R. Jocqué, Y. Kranz-Baltensperger, C. Kropf, R. Ott, M.J. Ramírez, R.J. Raven, C.A. Rheims, G.R.S. Ruiz, A.J. Santos, A. Saucedo, P. Sierwald, T. Szüts, D. Ubick, and X.-P. Wang.  2012.  Tarsal organ morphology and the phylogeny of goblin spiders (Araneae, Oonopidae), with notes on basal genera.  American Museum Novitates no 3736, pp. 1-52, figs. 1-329.

Teaching Experience

Faculty Appointments

  • Adjunct Professor, Cornell University, 1988–present
  • Adjunct Professor, CUNY, 1978–present
  • Adjunct Senior Research Scientist, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, Columbia University, 1999–present

Courses Taught

  • Seminar in Zoogeography, CUNY, 1980–1981, 1988

Graduate Advisees

  • Joyce Fassbender, CUNY
  • Xin Ping Wang, Cornell University
  • Diana Silva, Cornell University
  • Kefyn Catley, Cornell University
  • Pablo Goloboff, Cornell University
  • Priyantha Wijesinghe, CUNY
  • Bonnie Bain, CUNY

Graduate Committees

  • Joyce Fassbender, CUNY (chair)
  • Gundmundur Gudmundsson, CUNY
  • Kurt Johnson, CUNY
  • George Engelmann, Columbia University
  • John Kochalka, University of Vermont
  • Iris Goldfarb, CUNY