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Two new species of Syllis (Polychaeta: Syllidae) from South Africa, one of them viviparous, with remarks on larval development and vivipary

  • Carol Simon (a1), Guillermo San Martín (a2) and Georgina Robinson (a3)


Two new species of South African Syllidae of the genus Syllis Lamarck, 1818 are described. Syllis unzima sp. nov. is characterized by having unidentate compound chaetae with long spines on margin, a characteristic colour pattern and its reproduction by vivipary. Vivipary is not common among the polychaetes, but most representatives occur in the family Syllidae Grube, 1850 (in five other Syllis species, two species of Dentatisyllis Perkins, 1981 and two species of Parexogone Mesnil & Caullery, 1818). Syllis unzima sp. nov. differs from the other viviparous species in having large broods (>44 juveniles) which develop synchronously. Development of the juveniles is similar to that of free-spawning Syllis species, but the appearance of the first pair of eyespots and the differentiation of the pharynx and proventricle occur later in S. unzima. Syllis amicarmillaris sp. nov., is characterized by having an elongated body with relatively short, fusiform dorsal cirri and the presence of one or two pseudosimple chaeta on midbody parapodia by loss of blade and enlargement of shaft. Syllis unzima sp. nov. was found in high densities on cultured Holothuria scabra Jaeger, 1833 with single specimens found on a cultured Crassostrea gigas Thunberg, 1793 and on coralline algae, respectively, while S. amicarmillaris was found mainly in sediment outside an abalone farm and less frequently on cultured Haliotis midae Linnaeus, 1758. We discuss the possible benefits of the association with H. scabra to S. unzima sp. nov.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: C. Simon, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa email:


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Two new species of Syllis (Polychaeta: Syllidae) from South Africa, one of them viviparous, with remarks on larval development and vivipary

  • Carol Simon (a1), Guillermo San Martín (a2) and Georgina Robinson (a3)


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