The stomatopod body plan is highly specialized for predation, yet the Superorder Hoplocarida originated from something other than the "lean, mean, killing machine" seen today. The fossil record of the group indicates that it originated early on from a non-raptorial ancestor, with the specialized predatory morphology developing much later. The Recent Hoplocarida have been variously positioned within the Malacostraca, from a Subclass equal in rank to the Eumalacostraca (= Caridoida) to being placed as a Superorder within the Eumalacostraca. Consideration of the early fossil morphology, especially of the form of the carapace, of the position and functioning of the articles in the last three pairs of thoracopods, and of other features, suggests that hoplocarids are early derivatives of a basal eumalacostracan stock that was "shrimp-like" in form. The enhancement of an abdominal respiratory system most likely allowed the development of the anterior thorax into the specialized raptorial system present today.
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