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On the morphospace of eurypterine sea scorpions

TitleOn the morphospace of eurypterine sea scorpions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsBicknell, RDC, Amati, L
JournalEarth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Pagination1 - 6
Date PublishedSep-09-2021
KeywordsEuchelicerata, Eurypterida, geometric morphometrics, morphology, ontogeny

Eurypterids (sea scorpions) are a group of extinct, marine euchelicerates that have an extensive Palaeozoic record. Despite lacking a biomineralised exoskeleton, eurypterids are abundantly preserved within select deposits. These collections make statistical analyses comparing the morphology of different genera possible. However, eurypterid shape has not yet been documented with modern geometric morphometric tools. Here, we summarise the previous statistical assessments of eurypterid morphology and expand this research by presenting landmark and semi-landmark analyses of 115 eurypterid specimens within the suborder Eurypterina. We illustrate that lateral compound eye morphology and position drives specimen placement in morphospace and separates proposed apex predators from more generalist forms. Additionally, evidence for size clusters in Eurypterus that may reflect ontogeny is uncovered. We highlight the use of geometric morphometric analyses in supporting the naming of new taxa and demonstrate that these shape data represent a novel means of understanding inter-generic ontogenetic trajectories and uncovering developmental changes within the diverse euarthropod group.