The Divergent Evolution of Arthropod Brains

Nicholas J. Strausfeld

in The Oxford Handbook of Invertebrate Neurobiology

Published in print April 2019 | ISBN: 9780190456757
Published online June 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190456764 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Divergent Evolution of Arthropod Brains

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Occasionally, fossils recovered from lower and middle Cambrian sedimentary rocks contain the remains of nervous system. These residues reveal the symmetric arrangements of brain and ganglia that correspond to the ground patterns of brain and ventral ganglia of four major panarthropod clades existing today: Onychophora, Chelicerata, Myriapoda, and Pancrustacea. Comparative neuroanatomy of living species and studies of fossils suggest that highly conserved neuronal arrangements have been retained in these four lineages for more than a half billion years, despite some major transitions of neuronal architectures. This chapter will review recent explorations into the evolutionary history of the arthropod brain, concentrating on the subphylum Pancrustacea, which comprises hexapods and crustaceans, and on the subphylum Chelicerata, which includes horseshoe crabs, scorpions, and spiders. Studies of Pancrustacea illustrate some of the challenges in ascribing homology to centers that appear to have corresponding organization, whereas Chelicerata offers clear examples of both divergent cerebral evolution and convergence.

Keywords: brain evolution; Arthropoda; mushroom bodies; central complex; homology; divergent evolution

Article.  25970 words. 

Subjects: Invertebrate Neurobiology

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