Microcerberidea Lang, 1961

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Suggested Common Name: Cerberuses and Pillslaters
Number of subordinate taxa: 50 species in 2 families worldwide, with 17 species in both families present in our area.
Etymology: after Microcerberus Karaman, 1933. Common name refers to the two constituent families, see those for more information.
Taxonomic History: Formerly considered part of Aselloidea (Asellota), split out into its own suborder over the course of the 80s-00s
Description: Body pigment absent (all known families troglobitic). Eyes absent. Antenna 1 5-segmented, consisting of a 2-segmented peduncle and a 3-segmented flagellum (poorly differentiated). Maxilla 2 triramous (exopod with 2 endites), sometimes biramous. Maxilliped endite absent (probably fused to basis in Atlantasellus). Pereopods 2-4 coxae free (fused to tergites to form coxal plates in Coxicerberus). Pereopods 5-7 coxae fused to tergites to form coxal plates (except in extralimital Afrocerberus and Protocerberus). Pleon with 2 free segments, both well-developed with large tergites and well-developed lateral margins. ♂ pleopod 1 present, simple (absent in derived members of Microcerberidae). ♀ pleopods 1-2 absent. ♂ pleopod 2 exopod minute with a single (sub)apical (sometimes lateral) seta (sometimes absent); endopod straight, not geniculate.
Type taxon: Microcerberidae Karaman, 1933
Notes: This small suborder contains only 2 families, both which occur in the area. Both families differ dramatically in ecology and morphology, mostly being united by the unique arrangement of the pleopods. Microcerberidea is cosmopolitan, although only one genus is cosmopolitan while all other genera are endemic to North America and Afroeurasia.

Subordinate Taxa: Atlantasellidae, Microcerberidae

Key to families
1 a. Body ovate, able to conglobulate; maxilliped "normal", basis large and broad compared to palp segments with a crenate distal margin, epipod well-developed; ♂ pleopod 2 (when known) exopod 2-segmented; currently only known from caves under Bermuda and Hispaniola but may be found elsewhere in the Caribbean --> Atlantasellidae
b. Body elongate and narrow, unable to conglobulate; maxilliped reduced with the palp dominant, basis small with a digitate distomedial lobe, resembling a palp segment, epipod absent; ♂ pleopod 2 exopod 1-segmented widespread intersitial organisms along tropical and (in the Pacific basin) temperate coasts as well as inland subterranean freshwaters in the southern Nearctic and the Caribbean --> Microcerberidae


Wägele, J. W. (1983). On the origin of the Microcerberidae (Crustacea: Isopoda). Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 21(4):249-262.

Published: Jan 1, 2023
Updated: Feb 15, 2023