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On the morphospace of eurypterine sea scorpions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2021

Russell D. C. BICKNELL*
Palaeoscience Research Centre, School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.
Paleontology, New York State Museum, 222 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY 12230, USA.
*Corresponding author. Email:


Eurypterids (sea scorpions) are a group of extinct, marine euchelicerates that have an extensive Palaeozoic record. Despite lacking a biomineralised exoskeleton, eurypterids are abundantly preserved within select deposits. These collections make statistical analyses comparing the morphology of different genera possible. However, eurypterid shape has not yet been documented with modern geometric morphometric tools. Here, we summarise the previous statistical assessments of eurypterid morphology and expand this research by presenting landmark and semi-landmark analyses of 115 eurypterid specimens within the suborder Eurypterina. We illustrate that lateral compound eye morphology and position drives specimen placement in morphospace and separates proposed apex predators from more generalist forms. Additionally, evidence for size clusters in Eurypterus that may reflect ontogeny is uncovered. We highlight the use of geometric morphometric analyses in supporting the naming of new taxa and demonstrate that these shape data represent a novel means of understanding inter-generic ontogenetic trajectories and uncovering developmental changes within the diverse euarthropod group.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Royal Society of Edinburgh

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