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Functional morphology of the copulatory system of box crabs with long second gonopods (Calappidae, Eubrachyura, Decapoda, Crustacea).


Male True Crabs use two pairs of gonopods to deliver mating products during copulation. Commonly, the second pair is shorter than the first pair, and most research to date has focused on species with short second gonopods. We investigated male and female copulatory organs in Calappula saussurei and Calappa pelii, two species of box crabs (Calappidae) with second gonopods which are longer than the first pair. Scanning electron microscopy and histological cross sectioning show that the female copulatory system is unique in several aspects: the genital duct is part concave and part simple type. The seminal receptacle is divided into two chambers, a ventral chamber of ectodermal and mesodermal origin, and a dorsal chamber of ectodermal origin. This dorsal chamber is the location of spermatophore reception during copulation. A sperm plug closes the dorsal chamber off. We propose that long second gonopods deliver male mating products directly into the dorsal chamber. To date, spermatophore reception has been associated with the mesodermal tissue of the seminal receptacle. The copulatory system of box crabs with long second gonopods shows novel deviations from this general pattern.