Insect-like organization of the stomatopod central complex: Functional and phylogenetic implications

Hanne H. Thoen, Justin Marshall, Gabriella H. Wolff, Nicholas J. Strausfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


One approach to investigating functional attributes of the central complex is to relate its various elaborations to pancrustacean phylogeny, to taxon-specific behavioral repertoires and ecological settings. Here we review morphological similarities between the central complex of stomatopod crustaceans and the central complex of dicondylic insects. We discuss whether their central complexes possess comparable functional properties, despite the phyletic distance separating these taxa, with mantis shrimp (Stomatopoda) belonging to the basal branch of Eumalacostraca. Stomatopods possess the most elaborate visual receptor system in nature and display a fascinating behavioral repertoire, including refined appendicular dexterity such as independently moving eyestalks. They are also unparalleled in their ability to maneuver during both swimming and substrate locomotion. Like other pancrustaceans, stomatopods possess a set of midline neuropils, called the central complex, which in dicondylic insects have been shown to mediate the selection of motor actions for a range of behaviors. As in dicondylic insects, the stomatopod central complex comprises a modular protocerebral bridge (PB) supplying decussating axons to a scalloped fan-shaped body (FB) and its accompanying ellipsoid body (EB), which is linked to a set of paired noduli and other recognized satellite regions. We consider the functional implications of these attributes in the context of stomatopod behaviors, particularly of their eyestalks that can move independently or conjointly depending on the visual scene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
StatePublished - Feb 7 2017


  • Central complex
  • Crustaceans
  • Evolution
  • Eye movements
  • Insects
  • Stomatopod

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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