Head development in the onychophoran Euperipatoides kanangrensis with particular reference to the central nervous system



The neuroectoderm of the Euperipatoides kanangrensis embryo becomes distinguishable during germ band formation when the antennal segment is evident externally. During later stages of development, the neuroectoderm proliferates extensively and, at the anterior part of the head, newly–formed neuron precursor cells occupy most of the volume. The antenna forms from the dorsolateral side of the anterior somite. The antenna has no neuroectoderm of its own at the onset of its formation, but instead, neurons migrate out to the appendage from the nearby region of the developing brain. When the antennal tract is formed it is positioned horizontally in the brain, in line with the antennal commissure. Only later, and coincidentally with the anterior repositioning of the antenna, is the tract's distal part bent anteriorly and positioned laterally. The eye starts to develop posteriorly to the antenna and the antennal commissure. This suggests that the segment(s) associated with the onychophoran eye and antenna are not serially homologous with segments carrying equivalent structures within the Euarthropoda. Evidence is presented to further support the presence of a terminal mouth in the ground plan of the Onychophora and, hence, an acron may not exist in the arthropod clade. J. Morphol. 255:1–23, 2003. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.