An aplacophoran postlarva with iterated dorsal groups of spicules and skeletal similarities to Paleozoic fossils


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Abstract. A tiny neomenioid postlarva (Neomeniomorpha, or Solenogastres) collected from the water column 3 to 6 m above the east Pacific seamount Fieberling Guyot has 6 iterated, transverse groups of spicules and 7 regions devoid of spicules between the transverse groups and the anterior-and posteriormost spicules. Three pairs of ventral, longitudinal zones with columns of single spicules, each pair with its own distinctive spicule morphology, lack transverse iteration. The 7 regions bare of spicules are compared to shell fields in developing polyplacophorans, and spicule arrangement is compared to sclerite arrangement on the Cambrian fossils Wiwaxia corrugata and Halkieria evangelista and to the spines and shell plates of the Silurian Acaenoplax hayae. The term iteration is used to denote processes that result in both metameric segments and repeated ectodermal skeletal structures. Iterative morphogenesis was probably present in bilateral animals before the Cambrian. Comparisons of iterated ectodermal skeletal structures among fossil and extant forms are suggested to indicate evolutionary relationship.