A chiton without a foot

Julia Sigwart, M. Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The palaeoloricate ‘polyplacophorans’ are an extinct paraphyletic group of basal chiton-like organisms known primarily from their fossilized valves. Their phylo- genetic placement remains contentious, but they are likely to include both stem-group Polyplacophora and stem- group Aplacophora. Candidates for the latter position include ‘Helminthochiton’ thraivensis from the Ordovician of Scotland, which we redescribe here through a combined optical and micro-CT (XMT) restudy of the type material. The 11 specimens in the type series are all articulated, presenting partial or complete valve series as well as moul- dic preservation of the girdle armature; they demonstrate a vermiform body plan. The valves are typically palaeolori- cate in aspect, but differ in detail from all existing palaeol- oricate genera; we hence erect Phthipodochiton gen. nov. to contain the species. The most notable feature of the fossils is the spicular girdle; this is impersistently preserved, but demonstrably wraps entirely around the ventral surface of the animal, implying that a ‘true’ (i.e. polyplacophoran like) foot was absent, although we do not exclude the pos- sibility of a narrow solenogastre-like median pedal groove having been present. Phthipodochiton thraivensis presents an apparent mosaic of aplacophoran and polyplacophoran features and as such will inform our understanding of the relationship between these groups of extant molluscs. An inference may also be drawn that at least some other pal- aeoloricates possessed an ‘armoured aplacophoran’ body plan, in contrast to the ‘limpet-like’ body plan of extant Polyplacophora.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalPalaeontology
Volume55
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Palaeontology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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