The presence of sclerites in different mesodermal tissues was studied in thirteen species of Mediterranean echinoderms representing the five living classes. In the species of Asteroidea and Crinoidea examined, sclerites were present only in specific tissues. In the species of Ophiuroidea and, especially, Echinoidea and Holothuroidea examined, sclerites were present in almost every tissue, but with considerable variation among species and tissues. Data on sclerite shape, size, and relative abundance (measured as tissue abundance) are presented. The data support the possible functional role of sclerites as reinforcing structures, as well as their possible use as taxonomic characters. Finally, the need of more studies to elucidate the ontogenetic and phylogenetic implications of sclerites is discussed.
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