The syncarid crustacean Anaspides tasmaniae rapidly flexes its free thoracic and abdominal segments in response to tactile stimulation of its body. This response decrements but recovers in slightly more than one hour.

The fast flexion is evoked by single action potentials in the lateral of two large diameter fibres (40 μm) which lie on either side of the cord. The lateral giant fibre is made up of fused axons of 11 neurones, one in each of the last 5 thoracic and 6 abdominal ganglia. The soma of each neurone lies contralateral to the axon. Its neurite crosses that of its counterpart in the commissure and gives out dendrites into the neuropile of each hemiganglion.

The lateral giant neurone receives input from the whole body but fires in response only to input from the fourth thoracic segment posteriorly. Both fibres respond with tactile stimulation of only one side. Since neither current nor action potentials spread from one fibre to the other, afferents must synapse with both giant neurones.

The close morphological and physiological similarities of the lateral giant neurone in Anaspides to that in the crayfish (Eucarida) suggest that the lateral giant system arose in the ancestor common to syncarids and eucarids, prior to the Carboniferous.

This content is only available via PDF.