The Purse Web Spider (Atypus affinis) is a species of myglamorph. The spider lives inside a subterranean silken tube a small part of which lies on the surface of the soil. When an insect walks over the tube the spider rushes up the tube, upside down, sinks its fans into the prey, devours it and then repairs the tube. Purse Web Spiders (Atypus) belong to the sub-order Orthognatha (Mygalomorphae) or primitive spiders and are recognised by their large fangs. Their size varies between 10 and 15 mm.
In Europe only two members of this sub-order can be found. In Australia 13% of the spiders belong to the Mygalomorphae. Purse Web spider go back 360 million years and are very timid spiders. They are related to Tarantulas and Funnel Web spiders. Most of these spiders live fearful lives buried deep in holes. They react on unexpected events by cowering in fear, unable to move, or by violently plunging their pickaxe fangs. The Purse Web spiders are named for their webs, which are purse-like, long tubes that stick out from their burrows. They dig a hole, up to 50 cm deep, in the ground and line it up with silk. Above the ground the tube extends for several centimetres. The tube is covered with soil and debris and therefore difficult to spot.
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