Growth of a pogonophore: a study of Polybrachia canadensis with a discussion of the development of taxonomic characters



Heptabrachia canadensis, previously known from one juvenile specimen, has been redescribed from new material and transferred to the genus Polybrachia. About 1400 specimens were available for study, including a series of developmental stages ranging from juveniles less than 0.1 mm in diameter to adults 0.6 mm in diameter. The smallest juveniles have one tentacle while most adults have 30 to 40 tentacles. Juveniles differ from adults in diameter, length, number of tentacles and type of tube. The most important observation to emerge is the variability of characters hitherto thought to distinguish different genera, and the need for care in the diagnosis of new species from limited material.