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Tagmatization in Stomatopoda – reconsidering functional units of modern-day mantis shrimps (Verunipeltata, Hoplocarida) and implications for the interpretation of fossils

Carolin Haug1*, Wafaa S Sallam2, Andreas Maas3, Dieter Waloszek3, Verena Kutschera3 and Joachim T Haug1

Author Affiliations

1 Zoological Institute and Museum, Department of Cytology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Greifswald, Soldmannstr. 23, 17487, Greifswald, Germany

2 Department of Marine Science, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, 41522, Egypt

3 Biosystematic Documentation, University of Ulm, Helmholtzstr. 20, 89081, Ulm, Germany

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Frontiers in Zoology 2012, 9:31  doi:10.1186/1742-9994-9-31

Published: 14 November 2012



We describe the tagmatization pattern of the anterior region of the extant stomatopod Erugosquilla massavensis. For documentation we used the autofluorescence capacities of the specimens, resulting in a significant contrast between sclerotized and membranous areas.


The anterior body region of E. massavensis can be grouped into three tagmata. Tagma I, the sensorial unit, comprises the segments of the eyes, antennules and antennae. This unit is set-off anteriorly from the posterior head region. Ventrally this unit surrounds a large medial sclerite, interpreted as the anterior part of the hypostome. Dorsally the antennular and antennal segments each bear a well-developed tergite. The dorsal shield is part of tagma II, most of the ventral part of which is occupied in the midline by the large, partly sclerotized posterior part of a complex combining hypostome and labrum. Tagma II includes three more segments behind the labrum, the mandibular, maxillulary and maxillary segments. Tagma III includes the maxillipedal segments, bearing five pairs of sub-chelate appendages. The dorsal sclerite of the first of these tagma-III segments, the segment of the first maxillipeds, is not included in the shield, so this segment is not part of tagma II as generally thought. The second and third segments of tagma III form a unit dorsally and ventrally. The tergites of the segments of tagma III become progressively larger from the anterior to the posterior, possibly resulting from a paedomorphic effect during evolution, which caused this reversed enlargement.


The described pattern of tagmosis differs from current textbook knowledge. Therefore, our re-description of the anterior body area of stomatopods is of considerable impact for understanding the head evolution of Stomatopoda. Likewise, it has a bearing upon any comparisons with fossil stomatopods, as mainly sclerotized areas are fossilized, and, on a wider scale, upon larger-scale comparisons with other malacostracans and eucrustaceans in general.

Tagmata; Evolution; Unipeltata; Macro-fluorescence; Sclerites