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Open Access Brooding in Mecistocephalus togensis (Geophilomorpha: Placodesmata) and the evolution of parental care in centipedes (Chilopoda)

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Brooding in Mecistocephalus togensis (Geophilomorpha: Placodesmata) and the evolution of parental care in centipedes (Chilopoda)

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The only well-documented data on female brooding posture in the geophilomorph family Mecistocephalidae come from Dicellophilus carniolensis (C.L. Koch, 1847), in which the mother coils around the eggs and hatchlings with the dorsal surface outwards. This posture is shared by Craterostigmomorpha and Scolopendromorpha but not by other Geophilomorpha (united as Adesmata), which coil with the ventral surface outwards. The change in brooding behaviour has been thought to coincide with the evolution of ventral glandular pores in Adesmata and defends the basal split of Geophilomorpha into Placodesmata (Mecistocephalidae alone) and Adesmata. However, a brood of another mecistocephalid, Mecistocephalus togensis (Cook, 1896), documented in situ in Cameroon, shows the mother to guard the hatchlings with the ventral surface outwards, in the manner of Adesmata rather than that seen in Dicellophilus. This observation suggests that the brooding posture may be more subject to convergence or evolutionary reversal than previously expected.


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