Reevaluation of coleoid cephalopod relationships based on modified arms in the Jurassic coleoid Mastigophora
Mastigophora brevipinnis Owen, 1856, is a ‘fossil teuthid’ presently considered to be a member of the coleoid cephalopod Suborder Loligosepiina Jeletzky, which in turn has been placed by various authors in or near the Vampyromorpha Grimpe. Recent morphological and biochemical analyses indicate that vampyromorphs are more closely related to the Octopoda than to the Decapodiformes. Fossils of Mastigophora from the Oxford Clay (Jurassic: Callovian) show soft-tissue preservation and evidence of arm crown specialization. Some of these fossils have up to eight short, thick arms with circular sucker-like structures and filiform distal extensions, plus what appear to be the bases of two thinner ventrolateral arms. The latter lack proximal suckers and curve medially to insert into the arm crown, similar to the tentacles that are the modified ventrolateral arms of living squids and cuttlefishes. This suggests that the thinner structures were decapod-like tentacles. If Mastigophora had tentacles homologous with those of modern decapods, then it was a decapod, because this synapomorphy defines the Decapodiformes. This indication of decapod affinities for Mastigophora brings into question the relationships of the other ‘fossil teuthids’. The inferred relationship of the Loligosepiina, including Mastigophora, with the Vampyromorpha, based largely on similarities of gladius morphology with that of living Vampyroteuthis, may reflect shared plesiomorphic characters.
Authors: Vecchione, Michael, Young, Richard E., Donovan, Desmond T., Rodhouse, Paul G.