The Unique Dorsal Brood Pouch of Thermosbaenacea (Crustacea, Malacostraca) and Description of an Advanced Developmental Stage of Tulumella unidens from the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico), with a Discussion of Mouth Part Homologies to Other Malacostraca. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Thermosbaenacea, a small taxon of crustaceans inhabiting subterranean waters, are unique among malacostracans as they brood their offspring dorsally under the carapace. This habit is of evolutionary interest but the last detailed report on thermosbaenacean development is more than 40 years old. Here we provide new observations on an ovigerous female of Tulumella unidens with advanced developmental stages in its brood chamber collected from an anchialine cave at the Yucatan Peninsula, which is only the third report on developmental stages of Thermosbaenacea and the first for the genus Tulumella. Significant in a wider crustacean context, we report and discuss hitherto unexplored lobate structures inside the brood chamber of the female originating at the first (maxilliped) and second thoracic segments, which are most likely modified epipods, perhaps serving as gills. At the posterior margin of carapace of the female are rows of large spines preventing the developing stages from falling out. The external morphology of the advanced developmental stages is described in much detail, providing information on e.g., carapace formation and early limb morphology. Among the hitherto unknown structures in the advanced developmental stages provided by this study are the presence of an embryonic dorsal organ and rudimentary 'naupliar processes' of the second antennae. Since most hypotheses on crustacean (and malacostracan and peracaridan) relationship rest on external limb morphology, we use early limb bud morphology of Tulumella to better establish thermosbaenacean limb homologies to those of other crustaceans, which is a necessary basis for future morphology based phylogenetic considerations.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 4.3

author list (cited authors)

  • Olesen, J., Boesgaard, T., & Iliffe, T. M.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Olesen, Jørgen||Boesgaard, Tom||Iliffe, Thomas M

editor list (cited editors)

  • Schubert, M.

publication date

  • April 2015