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Peristomatic structures in Scutigeromorpha (Chilopoda): a comparative study, with new characters for higher-level systematics


Structural details of the areas around the mouth opening in centipedes (Chilopoda) have not previously been studied comparatively, though descriptions of single representatives of the major groups indicate conspicuous variability. In order to clarify its phylogenetic significance, the roof of the preoral chamber (epipharynx) and its bottom (hypopharynx) have been examined for 17 species that sample 11 genera of Scutigeromorpha. The survey by light and scanning electron microscopy includes representatives of each of the major subgroups (Scutigerinidae, Pselliodidae, Scutigerinae and Thereuoneminae). The detailed morphology of the peristomatic areas is similar in all species. The three major subgroups Scutigerinidae, Pselliodidae and Scutigeridae are each distinguished by the structure of the lateral rows of labral bristles and details of the epipharyngeal sensilla. By comparison to pleurostigmophoran chilopods, several characters of the hypopharynx and epipharynx can be identified as autapomorphic for Scutigeromorpha. The pselliodid Sphendononema shares a few apparent synapomorphic characters with Scutigeridae to the exclusion of the Scutigerinidae, providing additional morphological support for Scutigerinidae being sister group of all other Scutigeromorpha.

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This collaboration was facilitated by an Australian Museum Visiting Fellowship to M.K. We thank Sue Lindsay (Australian Museum) for operating the SEM and assisting with specimen preparation. Thanks are also due to Verena Bärmann (Freie Universität Berlin) who contributed some histological sections, and Peter Adam (Freie Universität Berlin) for making the drawings. Samples from Madagascar were provided by Charles Griswold and Darrell Ubick (California Academy of Sciences) from fieldwork funded by NSF Grant DEB-0072713. Collections from Central Asia were contributed by Lorenzo Prendini, funded by NSF Supplementary Grant EAR-0313698. Additional material was kindly loaned by Laura Liebensperger and Gonzalo Giribet (Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University), James Boone (Field Museum of Natural History), and Nikolaj Scharff (Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen). Wolfgang Dohle (Freie Universität Berlin) and Pavel Stoev (National Museum for Natural History Sofia, Bulgaria) provided valuable comments on the manuscript. G.D.E.’s research on Scutigeromorpha is supported by Australian Biological Resources Study Grant 205–08.

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Correspondence to Markus Koch.

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Koch, M., Edgecombe, G.D. Peristomatic structures in Scutigeromorpha (Chilopoda): a comparative study, with new characters for higher-level systematics. Zoomorphology 125, 187–207 (2006).

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  • Myriapoda
  • Scutigeromorpha
  • Epipharynx
  • Hypopharynx
  • Phylogeny