Unique ‘spring-loaded’ gnathopod in the recently re-discovered and highly range-restricted estuarine amphipod Quadrivisio aviceps
The amphipod Quadrivisio aviceps (KH Barnard 1940), previously known from just three records collected at two small estuaries in the Western Cape, South Africa, was re-discovered at one of the original collection sites (the Palmiet River lagoon). The population at the second site (the Klein River estuary) appears to have died out, and surveys of other nearby estuaries failed to detect any additional populations. The species thus now appears to be restricted to a few hundred metres within a single small estuary, making it perhaps South Africa’s most range-restricted marine crustacean. The gnathopod 2 of males has an extremely unusual shortened and elbowed dactyl, as well as a newly discovered and unique horseshoe-shaped ‘spring’ of elastic resilin tissue inserted within the muscles of the propodus. The function of the structure could not be confirmed, but it is thought to be a previously unknown vibration or sound-generating mechanism.
Keywords: click mechanism, endemicity, Maeridae, nano-CT scan, range restriction, South Africa, taxonomy