• mollusc;
  • development;
  • evolution;
  • Polyplacophora;
  • larva;
  • trochophore;
  • muscle;
  • phylogeny


We investigated muscle development in two chiton species, Mopalia muscosa and Chiton olivaceus, from embryo hatching until 10 days after metamorphosis. The anlagen of the dorsal longitudinal rectus muscle and a larval prototroch muscle ring are the first detectable muscle structures in the early trochophore-like larva. Slightly later, a ventrolaterally situated pair of longitudinal muscles appears, which persists through metamorphosis. In addition, the anlagen of the putative dorsoventral shell musculature and the first fibers of a muscular grid, which is restricted to the pretrochal region and consists of outer ring and inner diagonal muscle fibers, are generated. Subsequently, transversal muscle fibers form underneath each future shell plate and the ventrolateral enrolling muscle is established. At metamorphic competence, the dorsoventral shell musculature consists of numerous serially repeated, intercrossing muscle fibers. Their concentration into seven (and later eight) functional shell plate muscle bundles starts after the completion of metamorphosis. The larval prototroch ring and the pretrochal muscle grid are lost at metamorphosis. The structure of the apical grid and its atrophy during metamorphosis suggests ontogenetic repetition of (parts of) the original body-wall musculature of a proposed worm-shaped molluscan ancestor. Moreover, our data show that the “segmented” character of the polyplacophoran shell musculature is a secondary condition, thus contradicting earlier theories that regarded the Polyplacophora (and thus the entire phylum Mollusca) as primarily eumetameric (annelid-like). Instead, we propose an unsegmented trochozoan ancestor at the base of molluscan evolution. J. Morphol. 251:103–113, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.