Revision of Sternaspis Otto, 1821 (Polychaeta, Sternaspidae)

ZooKeys No. 286


By Kelly Sendall & Sergio I. Salazar-Vallejo
September 2013
Distributed By Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9789546426796                         
74 pages, Illustrated
$57.50 Paper original

The peanut-shaped sternaspid polychaetes have been known since 1760 when Plancus named them as Mentula cucurbitacea marina. Sternaspids are common and abundant in soft bottoms. Some authors suggested that only one species should be recognized, whereas others regard a few species very widely distributed and variable depths. Delineating species was problematic; the ventro-caudal shield was disregarded or barely used for identifying species. In this contribution the ventral shield is evaluated and its diagnostic potential is confirmed. 
The revision of Sternaspis is based upon type or topotype materials. Sternaspid body, introvert hooks and shield show three distinct patterns: two genera have 7 abdominal segments and tapered introvert hooks, and one genus has 8 abdominal segments and spatulate introvert hooks. The ventro-caudal shield has 3 different patterns: stiff with ribs, and sometimes concentric lines, stiff with feebly-defined ribs but no concentric lines, and soft with firmly adhered sediment particles. 

Sternaspis is restricted to include species with 7 abdominal segments, falcate introvert hooks, and stiff shields, often exhibiting radial ribs, concentric lines or both. 
Two new genera incorporate the remaining species: Caulleryaspis has falcate introvert hooks, 7 abdominal segments, and soft shields with sediment particles firmly adhered on them.
Petersenaspis has spatulate introvert hooks, 8 abdominal segments, and stiff shields with poorly-defined ribs but no concentric line.
The geographic range of most species is smaller than previously indicated. Keys to genera and to all species are also included.


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