The larval morphology of the spongefly Sisyra nigra (Retzius, 1783) (Neuroptera: Sisyridae)

October 07, 2019

Kenny Jandausch (1), Rolf G. Beutel (1), Ronald Bellstedt (2)
Journal of Morphology, 280, Issue 2, October 2019: 1742-1758. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.21060


larval anatomy, phylogeny, sponges, Spongillaflies


The morphology of mature larvae of Sisyra nigra was studied and documented with a broad spectrum of techniques. Special emphasis is on the cephalic anatomy and on the digestive tract. Cephalic structures are highly modified, with numerous autapomorphic conditions, including a globular head capsule, an extended area with large cornea lenses, a massive tentorium, a strongly developed prepharyngeal pumping apparatus with a horizontal arrangement of dilators, a sharp bend between the prepharynx and pharynx, and an unusual filter apparatus at the entrance of the large crop. The thoracic and abdominal muscle sets, and the legs are largely unmodified. Postcephalic apomorphies are conspicuous tergal setiferous tubercles, trifid setiferous pleural projections, single pretarsal claws, zigzag-shaped abdominal tracheal gills, and a dense vestiture of setae on the terminal abdominal segments. Mandibulo-maxillary stylets curved outwards are an unusual apomorphy also found in the semiaquatic larvae of Osmylidae. Semiaquatic or aquatic habits and secondarily multisegmented antennae are potential synapomorphies of these two groups and Nevrorthidae (Osmyloidea). A sistergroup relationship between Sisyridae and Nevrorthidae suggests that fully aquatic habits of larvae may be a synapomorphy of both families. A specialized terminal antennal seta is a potential groundplan apomorphy of Neuroptera, with secondary loss in Nevrorthidae and Ithonidae + Myrmeleontiformia, respectively. A trumpet-shaped empodium is likely an apomorphy of Neuroptera excluding Coniopterygidae and Osmyloidea, and the secondary loss an apomorphy of Ithonidae on one hand, and Myrmeleontiformia excl. Psychopsidae on the other.

How Our Software Was Used

Dragonfly was used for the segmentation of μCT-data.

Author Affiliation

(1) Institut für Zoologie und Evolutionsforschung mit Phyletischem Museum, Friedrich-SchillerUniversität Jena, Jena, Germany.
(2) Naturschutzbund Deutschland eV, Brühl 2, Gotha, Germany.