Ptychodactiaria, currently recognized as an order equivalent to Actiniaria (sea anemones sensu stricto) and Scleractinia (‘true’ or hard corals) of cnidarian class Anthozoa, contains three monotypic genera, Dactylanthus, Ptychodactis, and Preactis, in two families, Ptychodactiidae and Preactiidae. Features that had been considered distinctive to the order among hexacorallian anthozoans were that gametes mature in protrusions from the mesenteries, as in octocorallian anthozoans, and that gametes do not mature embedded in mesogloea. However, we found that ptychodactiarian gametes develop in the mesenteries, surrounded by mesogloea, as in other sea anemones. We conclude that the three species constitute a clade, the most distinctive feature of which is medially fused mesenteries at the proximal end of the body. This clade merits subordinal status within order Actiniaria. We redefine Ptychodactiaria and its component taxa, moving Dactylanthus from family Ptychodactiidae to family Preactiidae.
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