Dr Jason Dunlop
Curator of Chelicerata
Musuem für Naturkunde, Invalidenstraße 43, D-10115,
Tel: ++ 49 30 2093 8516
Fax: ++ 49 30 2093 8528
Friends and colleagues in arachnid and/or arthropod palaeontology and evolution -
Dr Lyall Anderson
[Xiphosurans, Rhynie Chert]
Dr Simon Braddy
Dr Dave Penney
Manchester Museum, UK
Prof Bill Shear
[Fossil & Recent arachnids]
Dr Paul Selden
[Fossil spiders and other arachnids]
This is my main field of research, essentially morphological studies of both living and fossil chelicerates to determine new synapomorphies that allow us to reconstruct the evolution of arachnids and their relatives.
Fossil arachnid systematics
I've worked extensively on the taxonomy of the extinct arachnid orders Trigonotarbida, Phalangiotarbida and Haptopoda. Much of this is re-descriptive work, mostly correcting mistakes by Petrunkevitch.
In collaboration with Dr Simon Braddy (Uni. Bristol) I'm trying to investigate what eurypterids (sea scorpions were like in life. Much of this involves re-examination of the fossils and comparisons with living arthropods.
I don't get so much time for this, but I'm still broadly interested in the biology of tarantulas (Theraphosidae), mostly studies of functional morphology.
I'm currently investigating the 'big question' of arachnid monophyly. Essentially this comes down to the position of the scorpions and whether or not they are sister group to eurypterids. What we're trying to do is put together new synapomorphies for Eurypterida + Scorpionida. The 5-segmented postabdomen is the obvious one, but there may be further characters in the respiratory organs. The next question is whether the obvious similarities between scorpions and sea scorpions are:
a. Convergent (i.e. in the Shultz (1990) model).
b. Symplesiomorphic (i.e. in the Weygoldt and Paulus (1979) model).
c. Synapomorphic (i.e. in the Dunlop (in press) model).
I'm writing a number of papers on both the existing chasmataspids (a poorly known chelicerate group) and some extraordinary new material from Siberia. Chasmataspids are either very strange eurypterids, or my favoured idea is that they are sister group to Eurypterida + Scorpionida. We now have both a metastoma and genital appendage present in chasmataspids.
I'm working on a project with Dieter Waloßek and Klaus Müller to study an Orsten arthropod larva that looks very much like the larvae of a Pantopod (pycnogonid in the English literature). This remarkable fossil looks like it will have significant bearing on the evolution of both Pantopoda (pushing their fossil record back a good hundred million years) and Chelicerata. Current evidence favours Patopoda being sister group to all other chelicerates.