The first occurrence of arachnids (Aphantomartus pustulatus) in the Carboniferous strata of Portugal is documented and its palaeobiogeographic significance is assessed. The Aphantomartidae species are thought to be native to Central Europe where its oldest example is recorded in Middle–Upper Mississippian strata. Known occurrences are preserved along the flanks of mountains such as the Appalachian Mountains, the Cantabrian Mountains and the Valongo Anticline (Portugal, Iberian Massif) and provide clear evidence that the Aphantomartidae species probably lived in upland or mountainous environments. The Iberian Massif may have served as a ‘link’ between the migration routes of several terrestrial animals from North America and Eurasia, and this linkage constrains the palaeogeographic and palaeoenvironmental conditions in equatorial Pangaea during the Carboniferous and Early Permian. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.