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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT The myodocopine furca is redefined as a composite of 3 or 4 highly sclerotized structures: furcal sclerites I and II, or I―III (basal sclerites), and the paired furcal lamellae. These components are connected to form the furcal complex. Furcal sclerite I bears the "globus" (sclerotized ball) and paired "radii" (sclerotized rods), termed herein. This study shows that the furca has several major functions in the feeding process of scavenging cypridinid (Myodocopina) ostracods, which include the cutting and holding of small food sections from an animal carcass, helping to hold the ostracod firmly in position on a carcass, and removing small fish scales. These functions are made possible by the rotation of the furca in an anterior-posterior vertical plane, the arrangement of the claws on each lamella, and by varying the angle between lamellae. The central adductor muscles allow areas of the carapace to open differentially. Thus, the body of the ostracod remains relatively well protected, even during the extension of body parts through the carapace aperture (the carapace may open only in the region necessary for this protrusion). The area of hardened body wall just anterodorsal to the furca in Myodocopina is termed the sclerosome and its functions probably include support for certain furcal muscles and protection of the body, exposed when the carapace valves are open. The basal furcal sclerites probably provide similar protection. The sclerosome has highly sclerotized longitudinal margins, forming the gird. The gird and the radii pivot on the Y-sclerites to form a fulcrum for vertical furcal movements in an anterior-posterior plane. The sclerosome is unique to Myodocopina.


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