The last common ancestor of Ecdysozoa had an adult terminal mouth


J. Ortega-Hernández, R. Janssen, and G. E. Budd. 2019. “The last common ancestor of Ecdysozoa had an adult terminal mouth.” Arthropod Structure and Development, 49, Pp. 155-158. Publisher's Version


The Ecdysozoa is a major animal clade whose main uniting feature is a distinctive growth strategy that requires the periodical moulting of the external cuticle. The staggering diversity within Ecdysozoa has prompted substantial efforts to reconstruct their origin and early evolution. Based on palaentological and developmental data, we proposed a scenario for the early evolution of the ecdysozoan clade Panarthropoda (Onychophora, Tardigrada, Euarthropoda), and postulated that a terminal mouth is ancestral for this lineage. In light of the accompanying comment by Claus Nielsen, we take this opportunity to clarify the significance of our argumentation for Panarthropoda in the phylogenetic context of Ecdysozoa, and Bilateria more broadly. We conclude that the ancestral ecdysozoan most likely had an adult terminal mouth, and that the last common ancestors of all the phyla that constitute Ecdysozoa almost certainly also had an adult terminal mouth. The occurrence of a ventral-facing mouth in various adult ecdysozoans – particularly panarthropods – is the result of convergence. Despite the paucity of embryological data on fossil taxa, we contemplate the likelihood that a developmentally early ventral mouth opening could be ancestral for Ecdysozoa, and if so, then this would represent a symplesiomorphy of Bilateria as a whole.

Last updated on 04/09/2019