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Lehmann, Tobias and Melzer, Roland R. (2013): Looking like Limulus? - Retinula axons and visual neuropils of the median and lateral eyes of scorpions. In: Frontiers in Zoology 10 [PDF, 5MB]

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Background: Despite ongoing interest in the neurophysiology of visual systems in scorpions, aspects of their neuroanatomy have received little attention. Lately sets of neuroanatomical characters have contributed important arguments to the discussion of arthropod ground patterns and phylogeny. In various attempts to reconstruct phylogeny (from morphological, morphological + molecular, or molecular data) scorpions were placed either as basalmost Arachnida, or within Arachnida with changing sister-group relationships, or grouped with the extinct Eurypterida and Xiphosura inside the Merostomata. Thus, the position of scorpions is a key to understanding chelicerate evolution. To shed more light on this, the present study for the first time combines various techniques (Cobalt fills, DiI / DiO labelling, osmium-ethyl gallate procedure, and AMIRA 3D-reconstruction) to explore central projections and visual neuropils of median and lateral eyes in Euscorpius italicus (Herbst, 1800) and E. hadzii Di Caporiacco, 1950. Results: Scorpion median eye retinula cells are linked to a first and a second visual neuropil, while some fibres additionally connect the median eyes with the arcuate body. The lateral eye retinula cells are linked to a first and a second visual neuropil as well, with the second neuropil being partly shared by projections from both eyes. Conclusions: Comparing these results to previous studies on the visual systems of scorpions and other chelicerates, we found striking similarities to the innervation pattern in Limulus polyphemus for both median and lateral eyes. This supports from a visual system point of view at least a phylogenetically basal position of Scorpiones in Arachnida, or even a close relationship to Xiphosura. In addition, we propose a ground pattern for the central projections of chelicerate median eyes.

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