Contributions to Zoology, 84 (3) – 2015Lucio Bonato; Alessandro Minelli; Leandro Drago; Luis Alberto Pereira: The phylogenetic position of Dinogeophilus and a new evolutionary framework for the smallest epimorphic centipedes (Chilopoda: Epimorpha)

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Abstract

The centipedes of the clade Epimorpha change slightly during post-embryonic growth but there is huge variation between species in the maximum body size. New specimens of the rarely collected Neotropical genus Dinogeophilus provide further evidence that this genus comprises the smallest species of the Epimorpha, with a recorded maximum length of 5.5 mm. Up to now Dinogeophilus has been invariantly classified in Geophilidae but different sources of evidence (examination by SEM, cladistic evaluation of morphology, similarity and phylogenetic analysis of molecular data) agree on a very different phylogenetic hypothesis: Dinogeophilus is actually a derived lineage of Schendylidae, only distantly related to Geophilidae, and possibly belong to a mainly Neotropical subgroup of schendylids. A comparison of Dinogeophilus with the most closely related taxa suggests that body miniaturization was accompanied by possibly paedomorphic traits, including lower number of some multiple elements (antennal sensilla, processes on the mouth-parts, coxal organs) and shorter setae. Possibly associated with miniaturization are also a few novel features of Dinogeophilus, among which the unique subterminal denticles of the forcipules, suggesting a possible change in the feeding behaviour.