Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences

Research Article

Functional morphology of the prosoma of Baltoeurypterus tetragonophthalmus (Fischer) (Chelicerata: Eurypterida)

Paul A. Seldena1

a1 Department of Extra-Mural Studies, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, England


The prosomal morphology of Baltoeurypterus tetragonophthalmus (Fischer) from the Baltic Silurian is redescribed and reconstructed. The first eurypterid labrum and new secondary sexual characters of Baltoeurypterus are described. The radially-arranged coxae of Baltoeurypterus were capable of adduction and abduction for food mastication, but not promotor-remotor movements for locomotion. Joint diagrams are presented for the first time for an extinct arthropod. Promotion and remotion of the limbs occurred about subvertical trochanteral pivots, as in all other chelicerates except xiphosurans. Baltoeurypterus probably walked in a “slow” gait; a method of choosing possible gaits for extinct arthropods is outlined. Swimming in Baltoeurypterus was effected by means of a rowing action of the posterior limb pair, which is provided with complex joints for collapsing the paddle during the recovery stroke. The limb arrangement and joint mechanisms of Baltoeurypterus are intermediate between those of the xiphosurans and the arachnids. It is possible that a sister relationship exists between the eurypterids and some arachnid groups, which would render Merostomata and Arachnida unnatural assemblages.

(Received December 04 1980)

(Accepted March 02 1981)


  • Arthropoda;
  • Estonia;
  • Feeding;
  • Gotland;
  • Locomotion;
  • Merostomata;
  • Silurian;
  • Swimming;
  • Walking