18 January, 2009

Can the morpholgy of the scorpion book lung help us in the understanding of the evolutionary relationship among scorpions?

Carsten Kamenz and Lorenzo Prendini (2008) have just published an atlas with a lot of SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) pictures of the morphology and fine structure of scorpion book lungs from 200 specimens from 100 genera and 18 families (156 plates with SEM pictures).

Differences in book lung fine structure is described and discussed, and the authors show how the observed differences can be use to better understand the evolutionary relationship between scorpions. External morphology has always been an important source in scorpion taxonomy and phylogeny, but this study show that the morphology of internal organs also can be a very important source of information. Modern microscopy technology make it possible to better see the fine structures that previously were not available for the researchers.

PhYSorg.com has a more thorough presentation of the study and an interview with the authors.

The fine structure of the book lungs of scorpions is diverse and phylogenetically informative, but has not been comprehensively investigated across the major lineages of the order. In this contribution, we present a fully illustrated atlas of the variation in book lung fine structure among 200 exemplars from 100 genera and 18 families of extant scorpions. We document variation in the surface sculpturing of the respiratory lamellae, the edges of the lamellae in the atrial chamber, and the posterior valvelike edges of the spiracles. These data provide insights into the phylogenetic relationships among Recent scorpions at several branches of the tree.

I thank the authors for sending me the article (which actually is more like a book because of all the plates with SEM pictures of the fine structure of book lungs)!

Kamenz C, Prendini L. an atlas of book lung fine structure in the order Scorpiones (Arachnida). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 2008(316):1-45. [Free fulltext - it is possible to download the large work in parts!]

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