Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences

Research Article

A redescription of the Carboniferous arachnid Plesiosiro madeleyi Pocock, 1911 (Arachnida: Haptopoda)

Jason A. Dunlopa1

a1 Institut für Systematische Zoologie, Museum für Naturkunde, D-10115 Berlin, Germany


Plesiosiro madeleyi Pocock, 1911, the monotypic representative of the fossil order Haptopoda Pocock, 1911 from the British Middle Coal Measures (Upper Carboniferous, Westphalian B) of Coseley, Staffordshire, is redescribed. A specimen from Sparth Bottoms, Lancashire is not a Plesiosiro and is referred to Arthropoda incertae sedis. Plesiosiro was probably a predator, having tooth-like projections on the femora for prey capture, and shows adaptations of the limbs for crawling in narrow spaces. The uncertain nature of the chelicerae, eyes and respiratory organs makes resolving the phylogenetic position of Plesiosiro difficult, though Haptopoda deserves its status as a separate order. Plesiosiro resembles both cythophthalmid and trogulid opilionids. Its broad prosoma–opisthosoma junction could be interpreted as a synapomorphy for Plesiosiro + Opiliones, but this character is not unique to these orders. Alternatively, Plesiosiro has a large, ventral opisthosomal sclerite. This is interpreted here as a genital operculum, a synapomorphy for Tetrapulmonata, and Plesiosiro is tentatively referred to this clade. Based on the synapomorphies of a divided sternum and subdivided telotarsi a relationship of the form: (Plesiosiro (Amblypygi (Thelyphonida + Schizomida))) is proposed.

(Received September 17 1998)

(Accepted February 03 1999)

Key Words

  • Amblypygi;
  • arthropod;
  • Coal Measures;
  • Coseley;
  • fossil;
  • Opiliones;
  • phylogeny;
  • systematics;
  • Thelyphonida