The statocyst of Vampyroteuthis infernalis (Mollusca: Cephalopoda)



The statocyst shows a remarkable combination of features of decapods and octopods confirming that Vampyroteuthis is a relic somewhere near the ancestor of both groups. The lining of the statocyst separates from the outer wall, forming an inner sac, filled with endolymph, surrounded by perilymph. This is the condition found in octopods, never in decapods. The macula is partly divided into a macula princeps and macula neglecta, as in decapods but never in octopods. There are numerous statoconia, but no large statolith has been seen. The crista has four parts as in decapods, but they are not sharply separated. There are numerous small anticristae, with the general form found in decapods, differentiated into pegs and hooks.

The wall of the inner sac contains numerous hair cells. These hairs protrude between the epithelial cells. The bases of the cells are drawn out into fine processes, presumably some dendritic and some axonal. There is thus a plexus of nerve fibres all over the wall, communicating with the crista nerve.

There is a very large posterior sac of unknown function, lying behind the crista. It contains only one large anticrista and the opening of Kölliker's canal, which is very large.