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The first modern solitary Agariciidae (Anthozoa, Scleractinia) revealed by molecular and microstructural analysis

Invertebrate Systematics
CSIRO Publishing
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Dactylotrochus cervicornis (= Tridacophyllia cervicornis Moseley, 1881), which occurs in Indo-Pacific waters between 73 and 852 m, was originally described as an astraeid but was later transferred to the Caryophylliidae. Assumed to be solitary, this species has no stolons and only one elongated fossa, and is unique among azooxanthellate scleractinians in often displaying extremely long thecal extensions that are septate and digitiform. Based on both molecular phylogenetic analyses (partial mitochondrial CO1 and 16S rDNA, and partial nuclear 28S rDNA) and morphological characteristics, we propose the transfer of D. cervicornis from the Caryophylliidae to the Agariciidae, making it the first extant representative of the latter family that is solitary and from deep water (azooxanthellate). The basal position of D. cervicornis within the agariciids implied by our analyses strengthens the case for inclusion of fossil species that were solitary, such as Trochoseris, in this family and suggests that the ancestor of this scleractinian family, extant members of which are predominantly colonial and zooxanthellate, may have been solitary and azooxanthellate.

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