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J Morphol 2018 Sep 01;2799:1206-1223. doi: 10.1002/jmor.20843.
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The sensory equipment of a sandokanid: An extreme case of tarsal reduction in harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones, Laniatores).

Gainett G , Sharma PP , Giribet G , Willemart RH .

The study of sensory structures has the potential to provide insights into the natural history and evolution of animals. The sensory structures of arachnids are usually concentrated on the pedipalps (the tritocerebral appendages) or on the distal podomere (tarsus) of the anterior walking legs, the latter being the case for armored harvestmen (Opiliones, Laniatores). Therefore, modifications of the tarsus could have direct impacts on the sensory equipment of these animals. Using scanning electron microscopy, we investigated the sensory equipment in an extreme case of reduction in tarsal articles in the harvestman Sandokan truncatus (Sandokanidae), which bears a single tarsomere in all legs, and the potential consequences of this reduction. Additionally, we review the literature on the natural history of the family Sandokanidae. Tarsomeres of all legs are equipped with gustatory sensilla, mechanoreceptors, and a pore organ, but wall-pored olfactory sensilla are restricted to tarsi I and II. Tarsi II present a higher density of olfactory sensilla and also putative campaniform sensilla (strain detectors), which indicates a special sensory function of this pair of legs. Other podomeres are covered with shelled sensilla, a probable chemoreceptor previously unreported in Opiliones. Overall, S. truncatus has types of sensilla largely comparable to harvestmen with longer and subdivided tarsi. However, S. truncatus also exhibits extra-tarsal sensory fields of sensilla basiconica (putative thermo-/hygroreceptors) in previously undescribed sites, and the unique pore organs. Our results establish a basis for further research investigating the natural history, as well as the evolutionary correlations and mechanistic causes of the tarsal reduction in this enigmatic lineage.

PubMed ID: 29893061
Article link: J Morphol
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