Claw asymmetry in crabs: Approaching an old issue from a new point of view
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Brachyura; handedness; heterochely; heterometry; heteromorphy
Crabs are considered exceptional examples of antisymmetry resulting from the phenomenon of heterochely. Here we investigate morphometrically both the size and the shape of heterochely in 28 crab species, distributed unequally along a brachyuran phylogeny. We address the importance of investigating claw size and shape for interspecific comparisons by linking geometric morphometric outputs to phylogenetic data for 134 brachyuran species. New indices introduced as new sexual dimorphic characters of size and shape, namely heterometry (right chela size/left chela size) and heteromorphy (Procrustes distance between right and left chelae shape), revealed sexually dimorphic differences in diverse crab species. We demonstrate that both size and shape heterochely occur amongst the examined species, but there are no ecological correlations. Our study demonstrates that claw similarity between two or more species was due mainly to phylogenetic relatedness rather than ecological convergence, suggesting that claw morphological features could be useful morphological markers in phylogenetic studies. Although further investigation is needed, this study represents one of the first to thoroughly analyse the origin and evolution of heterochely within the Brachyura clade.
Spani, F., Scalici, M., Crandall, K., & Piras, P. (2020). Claw asymmetry in crabs: Approaching an old issue from a new point of view. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 129 (1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biolinnean/blz159