The cuticle of arthropods is usually composed of layers of a chitin-protein-microcomposite, a proteinaceous epicuticle and a thin lipid coating. However, in some instances a thick cement layer (cerotegument) covers the cuticle and may produce elaborate microstructures. This has previously been described for millipedes and mites. Here we report the previously unknown presence of a superhydrophobic cerotegument in whip-spiders (Ambypygi) and reveal its variation in ultrastructure and water-repellence between species. We discuss the relevance of found micro-morphological and physical characters for taxonomy and phylogenetics of this group, and the potential biological functions.
- Surface coating