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Rediscovery and augmented description of the HMS ‘Challenger’ acorn worm (Hemichordata, Enteropneusta), Glandiceps abyssicola, in the equatorial Atlantic abyss

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2013

Nicholas D. Holland*
Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093USA
Karen J. Osborn
Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, 20013-7012
Andrey V. Gebruk
P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 117997, Russia
Antonina Rogacheva
P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 117997, Russia
Correspondence should be addressed to: N.D. Holland, Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093USA email:


A 2009 oceanographic expedition of the Russian Academy of Sciences collected the anterior region of a single acorn worm (phylum Hemichordata, class Enteropneusta) by trawling at a depth of 5560 m in the Romanche Trench (equatorial Atlantic). The specimen was a ripe female with numerous, relatively small oocytes in each ovary. Phylogenetic analysis of rDNA sequences robustly placed the worm in the family Spengelidae. In addition, morphological features of the proboscis, collar, and anterior trunk region indicated that the worm was Glandiceps abyssicola, a species previously represented solely by the holotype, which had been dredged from the equatorial Atlantic in 1873 by the HMS ‘Challenger’ and subsequently sent to Germany for description by Spengel (1893). The holotype was presumably destroyed by World War II bombing; therefore, we here designate the Romanche Trench specimen as the neotype of G. abyssicola and supply an augmented species diagnosis.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2013 

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