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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


In the literature there are numerous reports of developmental deformities in arthropods collected in their natural habitat. Since such teratogenically affected individuals are found purely by chance, the causes of their defects are unknown. Numerous potential physical, mechanical, chemical, and biological teratogens have been considered and tested in the laboratory. Thermal shocks, frequently used in teratological research on the spider Eratigena atrica, have led to deformities on both the prosoma and the opisthosoma. In the 2020/2021 breeding season, by applying alternating temperatures (14 °C and 32 °C, changed every 12 h) for the first 10 days of embryonic development, we obtained 212 postembryos (out of 3,007) with the following anomalies: oligomely, heterosymely, bicephaly, schistomely, symely, polymely, complex anomalies, and others. From these we selected six spiders with defects on the prosoma and two with short appendages on the pedicel for further consideration. The latter cases seem particularly interesting because appendages do not normally develop on this body part, viewed as the first segment of the opisthosoma, and appear to represent examples of atavism. In view of the ongoing development of molecular techniques and recent research on developmental mechanisms in spiders, we believe the observed phenotypes may result, at least in part, from the erroneous suppression or expression of segmentation or appendage patterning genes. We consider “knockdown” experiments described in the literature as a means for generating hypotheses about the sources of temperature-induced body abnormalities in E. atrica.


Biological Sciences

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© 2023 Napiórkowska et al.


This is an Open Access article published in PeerJ in 2023, available online: