oa Annals of the Natal Museum - Leg-chaetotaxy with special reference to the Pterygosomidae (Acarina)

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0304-0798



This essay has grown out of some detailed observations on the chaetotaxy of the legs in the genus Geckobia, undertaken originally with a view to providing diagnostic characters to the many species of that genus. Extension of the observations to the other genera of the Pterygosomidae has afforded me so much of interest and delight that the temptation to discuss the preliminary observations has proved irresistible. The study has also provided much food for thought and speculation, some of which is included as foci for discussion rather than as confident hypotheses. Relatively few observations have been made, especially of males and immature stages and no detailed analysis of infra-specific variation has been attempted. The work of Goksu, Wharton and Yunker (1960) on such variation in laboratory-reared populations of Trombicula (Leptotrombidium) akamushi amply demonstrates the folly of too-easy acceptance of setation patterns. Certainly such variation does occur often as loss or duplication of one or more setae. However, it commonly affects only one leg and is easily recognized in the majority of cases. While much of the material discussed here is directly relevant to taxonomy, this is not the primary object of the essay. Important taxonomic data have been intentionally omitted as such is readily obtainable from the works listed in the bibliography. Especial mention must be made however of the fine studies by Dr R. F. Lawrence himself on the Pterygosomidae of South Africa which, together with the work of Mr A. S. Hirst and Mr F. Cunliffe, have supplied invaluable information on the habit of these parasites. References to important work on chaetotaxy have been omitted in the main as a useful list has been given already by Dr R. V. Southcott (1961).

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