On the origin of the putative furca of the Ostracoda (Crustacea)

  • Claude Meisch
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 197)


The posterior end of body of the extant ostracods exhibits a pair of variously shaped appendages, commonly designated as furca(e), uropods or caudal rami, used for feeding and/or locomotion. It is here shown that the socalled furca of all extant ostracods has evolved from the (probably epipodal) vibratory plates of a pair of uropods.

The transformation comprised the following steps: (a) complete reduction of the uropodal protopodite and endopodite; (b) sclerotisation of the lateral walls of the vibratory plates; (c) transformation of the branchial filaments into spines and/or claws; (d) re-orientation of the plates from posterodorsal to posteroventral. These modifications are suggested to have evolved in parallel with a change in function, from respiratory to locomotory and/or feeding.

The most primitive condition, reminiscent of the ancestral state of character, is seen in the Platycopida: the ‘furca’ still appears similar in shape to the vibratory plates of the pair of sixth limbs. In the Podocopida the uropodal plates have been modified into plate-like, more often into rod-shaped rami mainly used for locomotion. In both the Platycopida and Podocopida the anus has remained in its original place, posterior to the ‘furcal’ plates or rami.

In the Myodocopida and Halocyprida the uropodal vibratory plates are transformed into heavily developed lamellae bearing sturdy spines. They are activated by a complex apparatus of muscles and sclerites, the development of which necessitated the displacement of the anus from the end of the body towards its present place, anterior to the ‘furca’.

The furca of the Ostracoda being not a ‘true’ furca, a change in terminology is proposed: uropodal plates or lamellae in the Platycopida, Palaeocopida and Myodocopida/Halocyprida; uropodal rami in the Podocopida. The so-called furcae of the Ostracoda being homologous structures, it is concluded that all extant ostracods belong to a monophyletic lineage.


Crustacea Ostracoda Furca Uropod Vibratory plates Evolution 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claude Meisch
    • 1
  1. 1.National Natural History Museum of LuxembourgLuxembourgLuxembourg

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