Sunday 16 September 2012

A new species of Crinoid from the Southern Ocean.

Crinoids are stalked Echinoderms, related to Starfish and Sea Urchins, but with a very different morphology. They are attached to by either by a stalk with a holdfast cemented to some hard substrate, of by a flexible stalk able to wrap itself around some object, typically a Coral or a Sponge. Above this grows an animal with a cup-like central body known as the calyx, surrounded by five branching arms, covered in long, flexible, tube feet which catch plankton and marine detritus and pass them to the mouth, located in the middle of the top of the calyx.

While Crinoids have long been known from the fossil record, they were thought to be extinct in modern oceans until 1876, when a living specimen was recovered off the coast of the Crozet Islands at a depth of 2926 m, dredged up by the HMS Challenger, during its round-the-world oceanographic expedition. Since then a number of species of modern Crinoids have been discovered, almost all living at great depths on the Ocean Floor.

In a review of modern Crinoids from the Atlantic and adjacent areas of the Southern Ocean, published in the journal Zootaxa on 16 August 2012, Marc Eléaume of the Département Milieux et Peuplements Aquatiques at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, Jens-Michael Bohn of the Zoologische Staatssammlung München and Michel Roux and Nadia Améziane, also of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle describe a new species of Crinoid from the Southern Ocean, off the coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica.

The new species is placed in the previously described genus Feracrinus and given the specific name heinzelleri, in honour of Thomas Heinzeller of Ludwig-Maximilian-University, an expert on Crinoids. The species is described on the basis of two specimens collected by the R/V Polarstern in 1991 at a depth of 1393–1398 m off the coast of Queen Maude Land, Antarctica, and now held in the Bavarian State Museum Collection of Zoology.

Feracrinus heinzelleri. Eléaume et al. (2012). 

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