Traditional shell characters are insufficient to differentiate taxa within the polyplacophoran order Lepidopleurida. Additional morphological character sets from soft anatomy (e.g., gamete morphology, gill arrangement, and locations of gonopores and nephidiopores) have previously been described from only a small number of taxa. This study reports for the first time, positions of the gonopores and nephridiopores for 17 species in the Lepidopleurina. The position of both types of pores on the longitudinal body axis varies within a generalized range of the posterior third of the body; however, the separation between the pores as a proportion of the specimen's foot length varies from 3.7% to 17% in different species. Positions of pores relative to the serial gills are also variable within species, and future studies may require a new descriptive basis in order to resolve positional homology. The order Lepidopleurida occupies a critical position with respect to understanding larger-scale patterns in polyplacophoran (and molluscan) evolution.
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Vol. 25 • No. 1