Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 425–432 | Cite as

A centipede nymph in Baltic amber and a new approach to document amber fossils

  • Joachim T. HaugEmail author
  • Carsten H. G. Müller
  • Andy Sombke
Original Article


The fossil record and especially examples of fossilized ontogeny have been described for many major arthropod taxa. However, little is yet known about ontogeny in fossil representatives of Myriapoda. Traditionally, taxonomy has focused on adult stages, and tends to “overlook” non-adults. Assigning an early stage to a specific species would demand having “bridging” juvenile stages. Additionally, as shown for other fossil arthropods, juvenile stages of a given species could have been recognized as separate species in the past. In this context, palaeo-evo-devo links evolutionary developmental knowledge with paleontological evidence. We report a nymphal lithobiomorph centipede from Baltic amber. The specimen was documented under cross-polarized light combined with image stacking. Stereo images were created based on these image stacks. Assessable characters are described and compared with data on extant lithobiomorph taxa. We conclude that the nymph (or larva) described here can be assigned to Lithobiidae and probably represents the fourth post-embryonic stadium. Findings such as that described here are still rare and detailed descriptions are not usually provided. The accessible data therefore represent an important example of fossilized ontogeny for centipedes.


Chilopoda Baltic amber Nymphal stadium Palaeo-evo-devo 3D-Imaging 



Paul Mayer, Field Museum Chicago, is thanked for help in the collection and loan of the specimen. Susan Butts and Jessica Utrup, Yale Peabody Museum, are also thanked for help with the loan of the specimen and the use of the equipment at the Peabody Museum. Dieter Waloszek and the Work Group Biosystematic Documentation, University of Ulm, are thanked for providing the ScopeTek DCM 510 ocular camera. We thank Gregory D. Edgecombe for fruitful comments on our manuscript. The specimen was investigated during a research visit at the Yale Peabody Museum, supported by the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation with a Feodor Lynen fellowship for postdoctoral researchers for J.T.H., and by Yale University and Derek E. G. Briggs, Yale University and Peabody Museum, for which they are heartily thanked. J.T.H. is currently kindly funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with a Feodor Lynen return fellowship. Carolin Haug, University of Greifswald, is thanked for longstanding support and intense discussions. Steffen Harzsch, University of Greifswald, is thanked for hosting and supporting the authors. We are grateful to people that spend their time for providing free or low cost software that was also used in this study, such as OpenOffice and Image Analyzer.


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joachim T. Haug
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carsten H. G. Müller
    • 1
  • Andy Sombke
    • 1
  1. 1.Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University of Greifswald, Zoological Institute and Museum, Cytology and Evolutionary BiologyGreifswaldGermany

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