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A new type of stalk articulation in the sea lily genus Vityazicrinus (Echinodermata, Crinoidea) and its ontogeny


A new stalk articulation named pseudo-synarthry is here described from the mesistele of Vityazicrinus petrachenkoi, a rare deep-sea crinoid from the Central Pacific Ocean. Pseudo-synarthries have an articulation facet displaying a general structure closely resembling the morphology of the true synarthry, i.e., with a strong bilateral symmetry and deep ligament depressions. Pseudo-synarthries differ from synarthries in lacking a hinge-like fulcral ridge and developing two additional depressions bordered by prominent crescent ridges at opposite sides of the bilateral symmetry axis. Pseudo-synarthries develop in the mesistele below a proxistele articulated by symplexies of 6–8 crenular units. Distally, subsidiary radial ridges appear on the outer edge of ligamentary depressions and tend to multiply, transforming pseudo-synarthries into multiradiate syzygies, as previously observed in the genus Guillecrinus. A chaotic polymeric pattern locally appears in the proxistele and mesistele, which tends to develop into a holomeric pattern during growth, devoid of any visible trace of ossicle fusion. Both early columnal ontogeny in comatulid larvae and the transition from a polymeric to a holomeric pattern in the guillecrinid stalk lead to the rejection of the hypothesis that the monomeric columnal results from the fusion of pre-existing ossicles. Among Guillecrinidae, pseudo-synarthries constitute derived characters that are unique to the Vityazicrinus mesistele. The development of radial subsidiary ridges in the distal stalk corresponds to a synapomorphy shared by Vityazicrinus and Guillecrinus, the two only genera currently attributed to this family. Pseudo-synarthries in Vityazicrinus appear as advanced stalk articulations adapted to the deep-sea environment, which are unknown from the fossil record.

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The material was kindly provided by David Pawson and Chad Walter (NMNH). The SEM pictures were made at the Plate-forme de Microscopie Eléctronique at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), Paris. This work was funded by three Actions Transversales du MNHN: ‘Biodiversité actuelle et fossile; crises, stress, restaurations et panchronisme: le message systématique’, ‘Taxonomie moléculaire: DNA Barcode et gestion durable des collections’ and ‘Biominéralisation’. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers who helped improve this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marc Eléaume.

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Communicated by A. Schmidt-Rhaesa.

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Eléaume, M., Roux, M. & Améziane, N. A new type of stalk articulation in the sea lily genus Vityazicrinus (Echinodermata, Crinoidea) and its ontogeny. Zoomorphology 133, 307–320 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00435-014-0222-y

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  • Echinodermata
  • Crinoidea
  • Vityazicrinus
  • Stalk ontogeny
  • Pseudo-synarthry
  • Monomeric columnal origin