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Systematics, functional morphology and distribution of a bivalve (Apachecorbula muriatica gen. et sp. nov.) from the rim of the ‘Valdivia Deep’ brine pool in the Red Sea

  • P. Graham Oliver (a1), Hege Vestheim (a2), André Antunes (a3) and Stein Kaartvedt (a2)

The deep brine pools of the Red Sea comprise extreme, inhospitable habitats yet house microbial communities that potentially may fuel adjacent fauna. We here describe a novel bivalve from a deep-sea (1525 m) brine pool in the Red Sea, where conditions of high salinity, lowered pH, partial anoxia and high temperatures are prevalent. Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) footage showed that the bivalves were present in a narrow (20 cm) band along the rim of the brine pool, suggesting that it is not only tolerant of such extreme conditions but is also limited to them. The bivalve is a member of the Corbulidae and named Apachecorbula muriatica gen. et sp. nov. The shell is atypical of the family in being modioliform and thin. The semi-infaunal habit is seen in ROV images and reflected in the anatomy by the lack of siphons. The ctenidia are large and typical of a suspension feeding bivalve, but the absence of ‘guard cilia’ and the greatly reduced labial palps suggest that it is non-selective as a response to low food availability. It is proposed that the low body mass observed is a consequence of the extreme habitat and low food availability. It is postulated that the observed morphology of Apachecorbula is a result of paedomorphosis driven by the effects of the extreme environment on growth but is in part mitigated by the absence of high predation pressures.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: P.G. Oliver, National Museum of Wales, Cathays Pk., Cardiff CF10 3NP, Wales, UK email:
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