Arthropod origins


Authors: Bergström J, Xian-Guang Hou

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 78, issue 4; pages: 323 - 334; Received 24 June 2003; Accepted in revised form 14 September 2003;

Keywords: arthropod origins, Anomalocaris, Tardigrada, Cambrian arthropods, Cycloneuralia, trilobitomorphs, eye ridge,

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Reconsideration of the position of trilobite-like arthropods leads to an idea of the last shared ancestor of known (eu)arthropods. The ancestry and morphological evolution is traced back from this form to a hypothetical ciliated and pseudosegmented slug-like ancestor. Evolution logically passed through a lobopodian stage. Extant onychophorans, Cambrian xenusians, and perhaps anomalocaridids with their kin (the Dinocaridida) may represent probable offshoots on the way. As such, these groups are highly derived and not ancestral to the arthropods. Results of molecular studies indicate a relationship to moulting worms, which at first could seem to be in conflict with what was just said. However, if this is correct, the arthropod and moulting worm lineages must have diverged when some 'coelomate' features such as specific vascular and neural systems were still present. The moulting worms would therefore have lost such characters, either only once or several times.