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Wrong Herbert Levi?

Herbert W. Levi

Professor Zoology Emerit.

Harvard University

HQ Phone: (617) 349-3600

Email: h***@***.edu

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Harvard University

12 Oxford St. # 373

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

United States

Company Description

The Harvard Art Museums, among the world's leading art institutions, comprise three museums (Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler) and four research centers (Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the Center for the Technical Stud ... more

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Background Information

Employment History

Member, Museum of Comparative Zoology

Harvard University


University of Florida


University of Connecticut

PhD thesis

Web References (12 Total References)

Bucket [cached]

Herbert W. Levi, now retired from Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, says, "There are about 500 kinds of spiders in the area, many without common names.

AAS History [cached]

And so it went, around the room - Herb Levi was told to work on theridiids, Martin Muma was directed to work on coelotines, etc, etc, until it was Pertunkevitch's turn.

In the 1930's several arachnologists appeared who would be a major impact on the shape of Arachnology for the rest of the century: Willis Gertsch, Harriet Exline, Wilton Ivie, Benjamin J. Kaston, Arthur Chickering, Herb Levi , Evert Schlinger, Stanley Mulaik, and Howard K.Wallace.
Herb Levi
In1938 a young man emigrated from Germany to New York with his parents. Herb Levi could speak no English so he was sent to public high school to learn the language. He also enrolled in the Art Students League, which he attended at night. A year or two later he worked as a lab assistant in his uncle's textile mill in Shelton Connecticut. When War broke out in 1941 Levi was drafted, but rejected as an enemy alien and restricted to Shelton. However, Shelton was close to New Haven, and Levi went to Yale Library and was permitted to use of the library. He borrowed books of natural history and found McCook's American Spiders. In 1943 he decided to go to college and tried Harvard, but didn't get admitted, so instead went to the University of Connecticut. He studied chemistry and zoology. He could get course credit by exam, which he did for German and Art, but got failing grades in English. Levi took a class from John Rankin in invertebrate zoology, mostly covering marine phyla.
Rankin asked Levi to lecture on arachnids.
Rankin also hired Levi to illustrate his Hemiptera of Connecticut.
Herb graduated in 3 years and went on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. He took various courses in biology, with an emphasis on invertebrates, but systematics was not permitted. In 1949 he finished his PhD thesis on pseudoscorpions, got married to Lorna Rose and took a job in Wasau Wisconsin, an extension of the University. Eventually he taught in Madison and became tenured. At meetings and during travels he met many other spider workers including Archer, Chamberlin, Exline, Kaston, Gertsch, Petrunkevitch, Ivie, and Mulaik.
Herb Levi and Beatrice Vogel
In 1956, Harvard offered Levi a job as curator at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, with no student contact, at half his Wisconsin salary. He decided to try it for a year and look for a better job.
Jon Reiskind received his PhD from Levi in 1968 and was a professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Platnick was a student of Levi and was just finishing his PhD thesis.
Directors: Herb Levi, Bea Vogel, Willis Gertsch.

Journal of Arachnology Editors [cached]

Herbert W. Levi -- Harvard University

The Taunton Gazette - News and Sports - 08/05/2005 - Bite victims, experts differ on spider theory [cached]

Which is why Herbert Levi, a retired professor of biology at Harvard University and a renowned spider expert, says, in effect, show me the proof.

Speaking by phone from his home in Pepperell, Levi said that any talk of an arachnid - be it brown or otherwise - being responsible for such bites and wounds is pure bunk.
"It was unlikely a spider," Levi said."Maybe it was a wasp, or a black fly or poison ivy."And, he added, "You would not be bitten by a spider outside."
Levi said there is simply no record of the feared brown recluse spider, or its less dangerous cousin L. laeta, having ever appeared in Massachusetts or New England.
He did say there is a type of black widow that resides in gravel on Cape Cod.
Levi also said that in 1962, he personally, and literally, stumbled across a member of a community of dangerous Argentinean brown spiders that for 30 years had been holed up in a campus building.
"They (school officials) tried to keep it a secret," Levi said, adding that the entire lot of the eight-legged creatures were successfully exterminated.

BZN 65(1) Comments [cached]

(3) Herbert W. Levi Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138-2902, U.S.A. (e-mail:

Levi, H.W. 1971. The diadematus group of the orb-weaver genus Araneus North of Mexico (Araneae: Araneidae). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology , 141(4): 131-179.
  The type designation made by Levi (1971) is invalid, because it ignores the earlier type designation made by Latreille (1810). Levi (1971) suggested that Aranea diadema be designated as the type species of Aranea Linnaeus, 1758 and Araneus angulatus is confirmed as the type species of Araneus Clerk, 1758. If this approach was followed, Aranea would become an older objective synonym of Epeira Walckenaer, 1805 and a junior subjective synonym of Araneus Clerk, 1758. The purpose of this action is unclear, as both species are considered to belong to the same genus. If in the future the recently accepted large genus Araneus is subdivided into smaller genera in such a manner that the species presently identified as Araneus angulatus and Araneus diadema will fall into different genera, these genera will get the hardly distinguishable names Araneus and Aranea respectively, instead of the distinct names Araneus and Epeira. If these taxa are elevated to the family-group rank, their names will become identical, and a new ruling by Commission will be necessary. The suggestion made by Levi (1971) does not clarify the situation with the recently used family name ARANEIDAE Latreille, 1806. When the family-group name ARANEIDAE was established, its type genus Aranea was interpreted as being based on Aranea domestica (which was subsequently designated as the type species by Latreille (1810)). This interpretation of Aranea is different from that based on the type species proposed by Levi (1971).

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