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Zoology Seminar

Aplacophoran molluscs—Diversity, Relationships and Hidden Beauty


Christiane TODT
University Museum of Bergen, Norway


TUESDAY 22nd May, 12pm

Neil Chalmers Science Seminar Room (DC.LG16)


When residing last summer among the islands and fjords of the western coast of Sweden, I met with an animal the mere external appearance of which immediately attracted my particular attention.
With these words a new species of worm-like marine invertebrate, Neomenia carinata, was introduced to science - communicated by Tycho Tullberg in 1875, finally published in 1886. He could observe a specimen alive and obviously was fascinated by this unknown “worm” covered in calcareous sclerites and creeping on a ciliated ventral gliding sole. Since then, 268 additional species of Solenogastres have been described, and about 130 species of the closely related Caudofoveata. Most of our knowledge on the diversity of the so-called aplacophoran molluscs is based on museum material, predominantly from deep-sea cruises. A wealth of unknown diversity is still resting in museum collections, awaiting attention of one of the very few taxonomic experts. I met my first living solenogaster in 1999 during a field trip to Bermuda. In contrast to Tullberg I knew what I was seeing – educated by my previous thesis work focusing on more or less well-fixed African solenogaster material. Still, I was as fascinated with the strange beauty of these animals. Since 2006, I work in Bergen, Norway, with excellent collecting and culturing facilities and a rich aplacophoran fauna in the fjords just outside the city. In addition, I have access to a large material from Norwegian waters, from recent collection efforts and dating back to the early days of aplacophoran taxonomy. In my seminar talk I will summarize the status quo of knowledge on aplacophoran biodiversity and phylogenetic relationships and outline the planned work for my SYNTHESYS stay at the Natural History Museum (21.5 - 8.6.2012). This work will include testing the suitability of micro-computer-tomography for non-invasive identification of solenogaster museum material.




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