Fine structure of the epicuticular secretion coat and associated glands of Pedipalpi and Palpigradi (Arachnida)

Michael Seiter*, Thomas Schwaha, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Lorenzo Prendini, Jonas O. Wolff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pedipalpi Latreille, 1810 is a poorly studied clade of arachnids comprising the whip spiders (Amblypygi Thorell, 1883), short-tailed whip scorpions (Schizomida Petrunkevitch, 1945) and whip scorpions (Thelyphonida Cambridge, 1872). It has recently been shown that whip spiders coat their exoskeleton with a solid cement layer (cerotegument) that forms elaborate microstructures and turns the cuticle into a super-hydrophobic state. The amblypygid cerotegument provides taxonomic information due to its fine structural diversity, but its presence and variation in the sister groups was previously unknown. The present contribution reports the surface structure of the cuticle in species of Palpigradi, Thelyphonida, and Schizomida to determine if these taxa possess a solid epicuticular secretion coat. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that in addition to Amblypygi only species of Thelyphonida possess solid epicuticular secretion layers. Unlike in Amblypygi, in the Thelyphonida this layer does not usually form microstructures and is less rigidly attached to the underlying cuticle. A species of Typopeltis Pocock, 1894, which exhibited globular structures analogous to the amblypygid cerotegument, was an exception. Glandular structures associated with cement secretions in Amblypygi and Thelyphonida were considered homologous due to similar structure. Solid epicuticular secretion coats were absent from Schizomida, which is interpreted as a secondary loss despite the presence of slit-like glandular openings that appear to produce such epicuticular secretions. The micro-whip scorpion order Palpigradi Thorell, 1900 exhibited markedly different cuticular surface structures and lacked solid epicuticular secretions, consistent with the hypothesis that this order is not closely related to Pedipalpi. These results enhance the knowledge of the small, enigmatic orders of Arachnida.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Morphology
Early online date27 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
U.S. National Science Foundation, Grant/Award Number: DEB 2003382; Discovery Early Career Researcher Award of the Australian Research Council, Grant/Award Number: DE190101338 Funding information

Funding Information:
MS and LP were funded by U.S. National Science Foundation grant DEB 2003382 to LP. JOW was funded by a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award of the Australian Research Council (DE190101338). Electron microscopy was performed at the Core Facility Cell Imaging and Ultrastructure Research, Universität Wien, a member of the Vienna Life‐Science Instruments. Special thanks to Daniela Gruber for assistance with SEM.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Amblypygi
  • cerotegument
  • exoskeleton
  • Schizomida
  • Thelyphonida
  • Uropygi

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