A fossil trigonotarbid arachnid with a ricinuleid-like pedipalpal claw
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- Dunlop, J.A., Kamenz, C. & Talarico, G. Zoomorphology (2009) 128: 305. doi:10.1007/s00435-009-0090-z
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A fossil trigonotarbid (Arachnida: Trigonotarbida) assigned to Palaeocharinus sp. from the Early Devonian (c. 410 Ma) Rhynie cherts of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK is described, specifically for a previously unrecognised feature of the distal end of the pedipalp. This exhibits a small chela formed from a movable, unpaired apotele articulating against a slightly shorter, fixed projection from the inferior surface of the tarsus. Among other arachnids, this morphology has only previously been observed in the rare and enigmatic Carboniferous—Recent taxon Ricinulei. This character offers explicit support for a monophylum (Trigonotarbida + Ricinulei); a hypothesis previously based on opisthosomal characters which (if correct) would draw Ricinulei within the so-called Pantetrapulmonata clade (i.e. spiders and their closest relatives). Our data is not consistent with Ricinulei’s traditional position as sister-group of mites (Acari) and is an example of how considering extinct taxa may help to resolve the position of a ‘difficult’ living group.