Protura

Synonym: Myrientomata Common name: proturans

Minute wingless hexapods; head cone-shaped, compound eyes, ocelli, and antennae absent, mouthparts entognathous and suctorial; foreleg modified as a sense organ; abdomen 12-segmented in adult with appendages on first three segments; gonopore (two in males) behind 11th segment; cerci absent.

About 660 species of proturans have been described worldwide. Of these, about 80 are European (including 20 in Britain), 30 Australian, and about 20 North American, though the latter figure may be misleading, reflecting the lack of taxonomic work done on this group.

Structure

Proturans (Figure 5.2) are elongate, generally pale arthropods 2 mm or less in length. The head is cone-shaped and bears anteriorly the styliform entognathous mouthparts. Photoreceptor organs are absent from the head, as are typical antennae. However, a pair of "pseudoculi" occur dorsolaterally that may be humidity receptors or chemosensory. The thoracic segments are distinct, though the first is greatly reduced. The six identical legs have an unsegmented tarsus. The forelegs are generally not used in locomotion but are held aloft

FIGURE 5.2. Acerella barberi, a proturan. [From H. E. Ewing, 1940, The Protura of North America, Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 33:495-551. By permission of the Entomological Society of America.]

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