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No AccessSystematics

Description and Relationships of Chaetopterus pugaporcinus, an Unusual Pelagic Polychaete (Annelida, Chaetopteridae)

Received 14 November 2005; accepted 24 October 2006.

An extraordinary new species, Chaetopterus pugaporcinus, is described from eight specimens collected from deep mesopelagic waters off Monterey Bay, California, by remotely operated vehicles. All specimens exhibit a consistent combination of both adult and larval characteristics, leaving in question the maturity of the specimens. All specimens lack ciliated larval bands and the stout, modified chaetae (cutting spines) typically found in segment A4 of chaetopterids. If the specimens described here are larvae, they are remarkable for their size, which ranged from 10 to 21 mm total length, nearly twice the length of the largest polychaete larvae previously reported and 5 to 10 times larger than known chaetopterid larvae. Then too, their lack of segment addition prior to settlement would be atypical. If adult, they are particularly unusual in their habitat choice and body form. Morphology of the uncini and comparison to larval morphology indicated a close relationship to either Chaetopterus or Mesochaetopterus. However, the lack of cutting spines and typical adult morphology made it impossible to determine to what genus this species should be allied. Thus, we carried out the first molecular phylogenetic analysis of the Chaetopteridae in order to appropriately place and name the new species. Three partial genes were sequenced for 21 annelid species. The sequencing also provides the first molecular evidence that Chaetopterus variopedatus sensu Hartman (1959) is not a single cosmopolitan species. The question of C. pugaporcinus being a delayed larva or a genuine holopelagic chaetopterid is discussed.