BackgroundWe describe new specimens of Mesozoic mantis shrimps (Stomatopoda, Malacostraca) that exhibit morphological and developmental information previously unknown.
ResultsSpecimens assigned to the taxon Sculda exhibit preserved pleopods, thoracopods including all four raptorial limbs as well as details of antennae and antennulae. The pleopods and the antennulae resemble those of the modern mantis shrimps, but the raptorial limbs are not as differentiated as in the modern species. In some specimens, the first raptorial limb (second thoracopod) is not significantly larger than the similar-sized posterior three pairs (as in extant species), but instead these appendages become progressively smaller along the series. In this respect they resemble certain Palaeozoic stomatopods. Another specimen, most likely belonging to another species, has one pair of large anterior raptorial thoracopods, a median-sized pair and two more pairs of small-sized raptorial appendages and, thus, shows a new, previously unknown type of morphology. A single specimen of Pseudosculda laevis also exhibits the size of the raptorial limbs; they are differentiated as in modern species, one large pair and three small pairs. Furthermore, we report additional larval specimens and show also post-larval changes, e.g., of the tail fan.
ConclusionsThese new data are used to reconsider the phylogeny of Stomatopoda. We still need a strict taxonomical revision of the Mesozoic mantis shrimps, but this first examination already demonstrates the importance of these fossils for understanding mantis shrimp evolution and the interpretation of evolutionary pathways of particular features.