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Lehmann, Tobias; Melzer, Roland R. (2018): Also looking like Limulus? - retinula axons and visual neuropils of Amblypygi (whip spiders). In: Frontiers in Zoology 15:52


Background: Only a few studies have examined the visual systems of Amblypygi (whip spiders) until now. To get new insights suitable for phylogenetic analysis we studied the axonal trajectories and neuropil architecture of the visual systems of several whip spider species (Heterophrynus elaphus, Damon medius, Phrynus pseudoparvulus, and P. marginemaculatus) with different neuroanatomical techniques. The R-cell axon terminals were identified with Cobalt fills. To describe the morphology of the visual neuropils and of the protocerebrum generally we used Wigglesworth stains and mu CT. Results: The visual system of whip spiders comprises one pair of median and three pairs of lateral eyes. The R-cells of both eye types terminate each in a first and a second visual neuropil. Furthermore, a few R-cell fibres from the median eyes leave the second median eye visual neuropil and terminate in the second lateral eye neuropil. This means R-cell terminals from the lateral eyes and the median eyes overlap. Additionally, the arcuate body and the mushroom bodies are described. Conclusions: A detailed comparison of our findings with previously studied chelicerate visual systems (i.e., Xiphosura, Scorpiones, Pseudoscorpiones, Opiliones, and Araneae) seem to support the idea of close evolutionary relationships between Xiphosura, Scorpiones, and Amblypygi.