The central nervous system of whip spiders (Amblypygi): Large mushroom bodies receive olfactory and visual input

Irina Sinakevitch, Skye M. Long, Wulfila Gronenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Whip spiders (Amblypygi) are known for their nocturnal navigational abilities, which rely on chemosensory and tactile cues and, to a lesser degree, on vision. Unlike true spiders, the first pair of legs in whip spiders is modified into extraordinarily long sensory organs (antenniform legs) covered with thousands of mechanosensory, olfactory, and gustatory sensilla. Olfactory neurons send their axons through the leg nerve into the corresponding neuromere of the central nervous system, where they terminate on a particularly large number (about 460) of primary olfactory glomeruli, suggesting an advanced sense of smell. From the primary glomeruli, olfactory projection neurons ascend to the brain and terminate in the mushroom body calyx on a set of secondary olfactory glomeruli, a feature that is not known from olfactory pathways of other animals. Another part of the calyx receives visual input from the secondary visual neuropil (the medulla). This calyx region is composed of much smaller glomeruli (“microglomeruli”). The bimodal input and the exceptional size of their mushroom bodies may support the navigational capabilities of whip spiders. In addition to input to the mushroom body, we describe other general anatomical features of the whip spiders' central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1642-1658
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • arthropods
  • mechanosensory
  • multimodal integration
  • olfactory glomeruli

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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