Head morphology of Tricholepidion gertschi indicates monophyletic Zygentoma

Alexander Blanke, Markus Koch, Benjamin Wipfler, Fabian Wilde, Bernhard Misof
Frontiers in Zoology 2014, 11:16
Graphical abstract: 
The relic silverfish Tricholepidion gertschi is the sole extant representative of the family Lepidotrichidae. Its phylogenetic position is of special interest, since it may provide crucial insights into the early phenotypic evolution of the dicondylian insects. However, the phylogenetic position of T. gertschi is unclear. Originally, it was classified among silverfish (Zygentoma), but various alternative relationships within Zygentoma as well as a sistergroup relationship to all remaining Zygentoma + Pterygota are discussed, the latter implying a paraphyly of Zygentoma with respect to Pterygota. Since characters of the head anatomy play a major role in this discussion, we here present the so far most detailed description of the head of T. gertschi based on anatomical studies by synchrotron micro-computer tomography and scanning electron microscopy. A strong focus is put on the documentation of mouthparts and the anatomy of the endoskeleton as well as the muscle equipment. In contrast to former studies we could confirm the presence of a Musculus hypopharyngomandibularis (0md4). The ligamentous connection between the mandibles composed of Musculus tentoriomandibularis inferior (0md6) is also in contact with the anterior tentorium. Phylogenetic analysis of cephalic data results in monophyletic Zygentoma including T. gertschi. Zygentoma are supported by the presence of a set of labial muscles originating at the postocciput, presence of an additional intralabral muscle, and four labial palpomeres. Character systems like the genitalic system, the mating behaviour, the segmentation of the tarsi, the overall body form, and the presence of ocelli which were proposed in other studies as potentially useful for phylogenetic reconstruction are evaluated.

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