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Keywords:

  • atavism;
  • epural;
  • hypural;
  • phylogeny;
  • polyural condition;
  • uroneural

Abstract

The ontogeny of the caudal skeleton in the Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus was examined using an extensive series of cleared and stained specimens. We demonstrate the presence of skeletal components never reported previously within the Salmonidae. In contrast to the generalized condition for salmonids, seven hypurals (instead of six), and four uroneurals (instead of three) have been found in some specimens. Variation in the number and condition of epurals is documented. New hypotheses are proposed concerning (1) relationships among centra and their associated elements, (2) phylogenetic distribution of caudal characters within the Salmonidae, and (3) homology of caudal components. Using the published phylogenetic hypotheses, we provide evidence, that a seventh hypural and a fourth uroneural are taxic atavism in salmonids. The development of the salmonid homocercal fin is discussed in the light of a polyural scheme based on evidences of a one-to-one relationship among ural centra and their associated elements. J. Morphol., 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.