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The Lower Devonian scorpionWaeringoscorpio and the respiratory nature of its filamentous structures, with the description of a new species from the Westerwald area, Germany

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Abstract

The fossil scorpionWaeringoscorpio hefteri Størmer, 1970 (Arachnida: Scorpiones) from the Lower Devonian of the Rhenish Massif of Germany is redescribed based on both the original type and newly collected material. A second, more tuberculate species from Siegenian strata near Bürdenbach in the Westerwald (also part of the Rhenish Massif) is described asW. westerwaldensis n. sp. Details of the coxo-sternal region — including the lack of an oral tube — and the number of ventral mesosomal plates are discussed.Waeringoscorpio Størmer, 1970 is best known for its possession of externally-projecting ‘gills’. Our new material reveals that these are indeed pair-wise bundles of rigid, branching filaments which originate laterally, quite possibly from those segments of the mesosoma associated with the book lungs in extant scorpions. Their gross morphology is most consistent with a respiratory organ adapted for use in water. Indeed their closest modern analogues are the tracheal gills of secondarily aquatic insects. We suggest that the morphology and likely palaeoenvironment ofWaeringoscorpio could indicate an aquatic animal, but we draw attention to the uniqueness of its gill-structures, which may not be part of the scorpion ground-pattern. Thus,Waeringoscorpio was perhaps a secondarily aquatic scorpion adapted for benthic life in oxygen-stressed, freshwater-brackish environments.

Kurzfassung

Der fossile SkorpionWaeringoscorpio hefteri Størmer, 1970 (Arachnida: Scorpiones) aus dem Unterdevon (Emsium) des Rheinischen Schiefergebirges wird anhand des Typusmaterials und weiterer Funde neu beschrieben. Eine zweite, stärker tuberkulierte Art aus dem Siegenium von Bürdenbach im Westerwald wird alsW. westerwaldensis n. sp. beschrieben. Details der Coxo-Sternal-Region — ein Mundvorraum ist nicht ausgebildet — und die Anzahl der ventralen, mesosomalen Platten werden diskutiert.Waeringoscorpio Størmer, 1970 ist aufgrund der Ausbildung seitlich abstehender, möglicherweise schlauchartiger Filamente am Mesosoma und ihrer möglichen Funktion als „Kiemen“ von besonderem Interesse. Unser neues Material zeigt, dass es sich bei diesen Strukturen um paarige Bündel steifer, sich distad verzweigender Röhren handelt, die seitlich der mesosomalen Segmente entspringen, welche bei rezenten Skorpionen die Buchlungen tragen. Ihre äußere Anatomie lässt sich am ehesten mit einer Funktion als Atmungsorgan, angepasst an ein aquatisches Milieu, in Einklang bringen. Eine bemerkenswert große morphologische Übereinstimmung zeigen die Tracheenkiemen einiger Larven heutiger, sekundär aquatischer Insekten. Morphologie und der wahrscheinliche Lebensraum vonWaeringoscorpio weisen auf ein wasserlebendes Tier hin. Wir betonen aber die Einzigartigkeit seiner Kiemenanhänge und dass diese nicht unbedingt Teil des Grundmusters der Skorpione waren. Möglicherweise handelte es sich um sekundär aquatische Skorpione, angepasst an eine benthische Lebensweise in einem sauerstoffgestressten Süß- oder Brackwasser-Habitat.

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Poschmann, M., Dunlop, J.A., Kamenz, C. et al. The Lower Devonian scorpionWaeringoscorpio and the respiratory nature of its filamentous structures, with the description of a new species from the Westerwald area, Germany. Paläontol Z 82, 418–436 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03184431

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