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Keywords:

  • Anomura;
  • circulatory system;
  • carcinization;
  • endophragmal system;
  • micro computer tomography

Abstract

The morphological transformation of hermit crabs into crab-like king crabs in the evolution of decapod crustaceans represents a remarkable case of carcinization or evolutionary shaping into a crab-like form. In this study, we focus on internal organs such as the hemolymph vascular system and adjacent anatomical structures of several Recent hermit crab (Paguridae) and king crab (Lithodidae) species. There are various correspondences in the morphology of the arterial systems in the dorsal cephalothorax of the two taxa, especially with regard to the anterior aorta, anterior lateral arteries, and hepatic arteries. In the pleon, the posterior aorta in both taxa displays a proximal bifurcation and follows an asymmetrical course. The ventral vessel system, on the other hand, which mainly supplies the limbs, differs significantly between the taxa, with pagurids displaying the plesiomorphic condition. The pattern of the ventral vessel system in Lithodidae is influenced by morphological transformations of integumental structures during carcinization. One of these transformations was the broadening of the sternites, which resulted in a widening of the space between the endosternites. In addition, changes in the morphology of the endophragmal skeleton in Lithodidae led to an increase in the potential for intraspecific variability and interspecific variation in the arterial branching pattern. J. Morphol., 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.