Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

‘Lophenteropneust’ hypothesis refuted by collection and photos of new deep-sea hemichordates

Abstract

The deep ocean is home to a group of broad-collared hemichordates—the so-called ‘lophenteropneusts’—that have been photographed gliding on the sea floor1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 but have not previously been collected. It has been claimed that these worms have collar tentacles and blend morphological features of the two main hemichordate body plans, namely the tentacle-less enteropneusts and the tentacle-bearing pterobranchs. Consequently, lophenteropneusts have been invoked as missing links to suggest that the former evolved into the latter5. The most significant aspect of the lophenteropneust hypothesis is its prediction that the fundamental body plan within a basal phylum of deuterostomes was enteropneust-like. The assumption of such an ancestral state influences ideas about the evolution of the vertebrates from the invertebrates9,10,11,12,13,14. Here we report on the first collected specimen of a broad-collared, deep-sea enteropneust and describe it as a new family, genus and species. The collar, although disproportionately broad, lacks tentacles. In addition, we find no evidence of tentacles in the available deep-sea photographs (published and unpublished) of broad-collared enteropneusts, including those formerly designated as lophenteropneusts. Thus, the lophenteropneust hypothesis was based on misinterpretation of deep-sea photographs of low quality and should no longer be used to support the idea that the enteropneust body plan is basal within the phylum Hemichordata.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Holotype of Torquarator bullocki (Phylum Hemichordata, Class Enteropneusta).
Figure 2: A diagram of Torquarator bullocki in dorsal view.
Figure 3: Deep-sea photographs of broad-collared enteropneusts not yet collected and described (depths, longitudes and latitudes are given in Table 1).

References

  1. 1

    Bourne, D. W. & Heezen, B. C. A wandering enteropneust from the abyssal Pacific, and the distribution of ‘spiral’ tracks on the sea floor. Science 150, 60–63 (1965)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Ewing, M. & Davis, R. A. in Deep Sea Photography (ed. Hersey, J. B.) 259–294 (Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1967)

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Jacobs, S. S., Bruchhausen, P. M. & Bauer, E. B. Hydrographic Stations, Bottom Photographs, Current Measurements, and Nephelometer Profiles. Eltanin Reports, Cruises 32–36 (Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Palisades, New York, 1970)

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Heezen, B. C. & Hollister, C. D. The Face of the Deep (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1971)

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Lemche, H., Hansen, B., Madsen, F. J., Tendal, O. S. & Wolff, T. Hadal life as analyzed from photographs. Vidensk. Meddr. Dansk Naturh. Foren. 139, 262–336 (1976)

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Thiel, H. Structural aspects of the deep-sea benthos. AMBIO Spec. Rep. 6, 25–31 (1979)

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Foell, E. J. & Pawson, D. L. Photographs of invertebrate megafauna from abyssal depths of the north-eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. Ohio J. Sci. 86, 61–68 (1986)

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Gaillard, C. Recent organism traces and ichnofacies on the deep-sea floor off New Caledonia, southwestern Pacific. Palaios 6, 302–315 (1991)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Bateson, W. The ancestry of the Chordata. Q. J. Microsc. Sci. 26, 535–571 (1886)

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Jollie, M. The origin of chordates. Acta Zool. Stockh. 54, 81–100 (1973)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Dilly, P. N. The pterobranch Rhabdopleura compacta: its nervous system and phylogenetic position. Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond. 36, 1–16 (1975)

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Jefferies, R. P. S. in Major Events in Early Vertebrate Evolution (ed. Ahlberg, P. E.) 40–66 (Taylor & Francis, London, 2001)

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Lowe, C. J. et al. Anteroposterior patterning in hemichordates and the origin of the chordate nervous system. Cell 113, 853–865 (2003)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Cameron, C. B., Garey, J. R. & Swalla, B. J. Evolution of the chordate body plan: new insights from phylogenetic analysis of deuterostome phyla. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 97, 4469–4474 (2000)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Woodwick, K. H. in Taxonomic Atlas of the Benthic Fauna of the Santa Maria Basin and the Western Santa Barbara Channel Vol. 14 (eds Blake, J. A., Scott, P. H. & Lissner, A.) 251–259 (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, 1993)

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Woodwick, K. H. & Sensenbaugh, T. Saxipendium coronatum, new genus, new species (Hemichordata: Enteropneusta): the unusual spaghetti worms of the Galápagos Rift hydrothermal vents. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 98, 351–365 (1985)

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Young, C. M. in Ecosystems of the Deep Oceans (ed. Tyler, P. A.) 381–426 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2003)

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Pawson, D. Deep-sea dreams: diary of a mad lophenteropneust watcher. Deep-Sea Newsl. 32, 6–7 (2003)

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Tendal, O. S. What became of Lemche's lophenteropneust? Deep-Sea Newsl. 27, 21–24 (1998)

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Tendal, O. S. Lemche's lophenteropneust widely known but still an enigma. Deep-Sea Newsl. 28, 8 (1999)

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Gage, J. D. & Tyler, P. A. Deep Sea Biology, a Natural History of Organisms at the Deep-Ocean Floor (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1991)

    Book  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Spengel, J. W. Fauna und Flora des Golfes von Neapel Monograph 18, Die Enteropneusten des Golfes von Neapel (Friedländer, Berlin, 1893)

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Menzies, R. J., George, R. Y. & Rowe, G. T. Abyssal Environment and Ecology of the World Oceans (Wiley, New York, 1973)

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Thorndike, E. M., Gerard, R. D., Sullivan, L. G. & Paul, A. Z. in The Ocean Floor (eds Scrutton, R. A. & Talwani, M.) 255–275 (Wiley, Chichester, 1982)

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Bett, B. J. UK Atlantic margin environmental survey: introduction and overview of bathyal benthic ecology. Cont. Shelf Res. 21, 917–956 (2001)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank C. B. Cameron and R. P. S. Jefferies for valuable taxonomic advice, and B. J. Bett, J. Barry, R. Logeman, B. H. Robison, R. J. Singleton, R. C. Vrijenhoek and the crews and pilots of the research vessels Western Flyer, Akedemik Mstislav Keldysh and G.O. Sars, the manned submersibles ‘Mir1’ and ‘Mir2’, and the ROVs ‘Tiburon’ and ‘Bathysaurus’ for animal collection, photography, and unpublished observations. This study was partly under the auspices of the MAR-ECO Project within the Census of Marine Life Program and was partly supported by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nicholas D. Holland.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Holland, N., Clague, D., Gordon, D. et al. ‘Lophenteropneust’ hypothesis refuted by collection and photos of new deep-sea hemichordates. Nature 434, 374–376 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03382

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing