Cassiduloids are currently rare irregular echinoids with a highly conserved adult morphology. Aristotle’s lantern is present only during the post-metamorphic stage, and little is known about the early development of species in this group. Cassidulus mitis produces eggs of about 375 μm in diameter, lecithotrophic larvae with four reduced arms with skeletal fenestrated rods, cilia along the body surface, and a ciliated band on arms and lobes. Offspring is brooded among the female spines from embryo to settler’s stage. The echinopluteus larval stage is reached 6 days after fertilization, and the settler’s stage is formed at the age of 17 days. Aristotle’s lantern appears around the thirteenth day of development. The lantern is well developed and functional in settlers. It remains until at least 62 days after fertilization and can be used to acquire food from the environment. The early development of C. mitis is unusual concerning features of typical lecithotrophic larvae (such as reduced arms), but retains some features of planktotrophic larvae (such as skeletal rods and a ciliated band). Regarding egg size, early development in C. mitis seems to be transitioning from facultative lecithotrophic to typical obligate lecithotrophic pattern in echinoid larval evolution.
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We are grateful to E M Lopes and F S Viana for their help in laboratory activities and to M S Martins for helping with English. We are also very thankful to John Lawrence, Richard Strathmann and the two anonymous reviewers for their critical comments and suggestions that substantially improved our original manuscript. T Chediak kindly took the photograph of C. mitis (Fig. 1). M Contins was supported by a scholarship from the Center for Research of Petrobras (CENPES/Petrobras) and UFRJ. CRR Ventura thanks to the Brazilian Council of Research (CNPq) for the Research Productivity Fellowship.
Communicated by M. Byrne.
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Contins, M., Ventura, C.R.R. Embryonic, larval, and post-metamorphic development of the sea urchin Cassidulus mitis (Echinoidea; Cassiduloida): an endemic brooding species from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mar Biol 158, 2279–2288 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-011-1732-5
- Stereoscopic Microscope
- Parental Interaction
- Ciliated Band
- Genital Papilla
- Planktotrophic Larva