Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 228, Issue 1, pp 63–74 | Cite as

The ontogeny of the 300 million year old xiphosuran Euproops danae (Euchelicerata) and implications for resolving the Euproops species complex

  • Carolin HaugEmail author
  • Marie A. I. N. Rötzer
Original Article


Xiphosurans have often been considered as archaic appearing cheliceratan arthropods, with a rich fossil record. We describe here parts of the post-embryonic ontogeny of the 300 million year old xiphosuran Euproops danae (Xiphosura sensu stricto, Euchelicerata), from the Mazon Creek Lagerstätte (Upper Carboniferous), USA. Recently, the ontogeny of a closely related species, Euproops sp. from the Upper Carboniferous Piesberg quarry, Osnabrück, Germany (informally called ‘Piesproops’), has been reconstructed. This analysis has drawn characters into question that were used to differentiate E. danae from another species occurring at the same time, Euproops rotundatus from the British Middle Coal Measures. More precisely, early post-embryonic stages of Piesproops resemble E. danae; later stages resemble E. rotundatus. Based on this earlier study, the here-described reinvestigation of E. danae has been performed as the ontogenetic sequence itself may yield more reliable characters for differentiating species of Euproops. We could identify eight different growth stages for E. danae. This ontogenetic sequence shows a comparable growth to that of Piesproops, but differs markedly in the development of the opisthosomal flange. This character may serve as a basis for reliably differentiating these species. Additionally, analysing the ontogeny of further species may offer the basis for identifying heterochronic shifts in the evolution of xiphosurans.


Fossilised ontogeny Xiphosura sensu stricto Euchelicerata Heterochrony Hapantotype 



We would like to thank Susan Butts, Jessica Utrup, Eric Lazo-Wasem, Daniel Drew and Lourdes Rojas for their help in the collections of the Yale Peabody Museum, New Haven, CT, USA. Derek Briggs, Yale University, Steffen Harzsch, University of Greifswald, and J. Matthias Starck, LMU Munich, are thanked for discussions and support. We are very grateful to Joachim T. Haug, LMU Munich, for continuous help with the imaging and fruitful discussions during the entire study. CH was kindly supported by a Bavarian Equal Opportunities scholarship of the LMU and is currently funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG HA 7066/3-1).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology IILMU MunichPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany
  2. 2.GeoBio-Center of the LMU MunichMunichGermany

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