The mandibles and the first maxillae of 37 species of the family Lithobiidae (Myriapoda, Chilopoda) were investigated and compared to provide a structural overview and evaluate their significance for the systematics of the family. The species sampling focused on the genus Lithobius, examining 33 species of four subgenera (Lithobius, Monotarsobius, Sigibius, Ezembius), as this genus represents ... [Show full abstract] about half of the known diversity of Lithobiidae, including more than 500 assigned species and subspecies. The microstructures on the mandibular gnathal edge and the first maxillary telopodites and coxal projections were studied using scanning electron microscopy.
Although having a similar structural pattern, we demonstrate that the microstructures are variable within and between species of adult specimens and commonly show intergradation. To check for intraspecific variability of microstructures and character stability, specimen sampling was extended for the two common Austrian species L. dentatus and L. validus, for which seven specimens depicted no major differences in the mandibular gnathal edge and the first maxillae. Our data suggest the presence of three characters in the mandibular gnathal edge and the first maxillae useful for lithobiid phylogeny. These characters were tested in a phylogenetic analysis together with previously described and novel morphological characters. Subgenera of Lithobius are mostly nonmonophyletic, and several other genera of Lithobiinae as well as other subfamilies group with particular species or clades of Lithobius. The results corroborate a close relationship between Disphaerobius loricatus and Lithobius (Ezembius) giganteus, strengthening the hypothesis that Pterygoterginae is nested within Lithobiinae and specifically within Lithobius, allied to L. (Ezembius) and Hessebius.