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1 November 2013 Development of the Chondrocranium in Hagfishes, with Special Reference to the Early Evolution of Vertebrates
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Recent molecular phylogenetic analyses have shown that the modern jawless vertebrates, hagfishes and lampreys, are more closely related to each other than to the other vertebrates, constituting a monophyletic group, the cyclostomes. In terms of their developmental morphology as well, it is possible to identify an embryonic pattern in hagfish embryos that is common to cyclostomes but not shared by jawed vertebrate embryos. On the basis of this pan-cyclostome embryonic pattern, we describe the developmental sequence of the chondrocranium and associated structures in the hagfish species Eptatretus burgeri and E. atami. Our aim was to establish homologies of the skeletal elements among cyclostomes by comparison of the developmental patterns with a lamprey, Lethenteron reissneri, to characterize further the cyclostome morphotype and its diversification in early vertebrate evolution. We show that the hagfish and lamprey chondrocrania can be compared perfectly at the level of modules corresponding to the craniofacial primordia constituting the cyclostome morphotype. In the adult anatomy, however, there are many instances in which homology cannot be established at the level of single skeletal elements, mainly because of the apparently highly apomorphic nature of the hagfish cranium. Even at the craniofacial modular level, the chondrocrania of cyclostomes and those of jawed vertebrates display very few primary homologies and are therefore very difficult to compare. We also discuss the problem of the homology of a neurocranial element, the trabecula.
© 2013 Zoological Society of Japan
Yasuhiro Oisi, Kinya G. Ota, Satoko Fujimoto and Shigeru Kuratani "Development of the Chondrocranium in Hagfishes, with Special Reference to the Early Evolution of Vertebrates," Zoological Science 30(11), (1 November 2013).
Received: 15 April 2013; Accepted: 31 May 2013; Published: 1 November 2013

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