Staples, David A., 2019, Pycnogonids (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida) from the Southwest Indian Ridge, Zootaxa 4567 (3), pp. 401-449: 416-419

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Sericosura  species indeterminate.

Figure 9View FIGURE 9 A–C; Plate 3View PLATE 3 D–E

Material examined. One subadult specimen (NHMUK 2018.19), Southwest Indian Ocean, Coral Seamount, 41˚ 22.31'S, 42˚ 54.57'E, ROV, 732 m, specimen JC066-3440, stn 4.38, mooring site, on net containing Mango wood, 20 November 2011. One subadult specimen ( NHMUK 2018.20View Materials), Southwest Indian Ocean, Coral Seamount, 41˚ 22.31'S, 42˚ 54.57'E, ROV, 732 m, specimen JC 066-1298D, stn 4.38, mooring site, on net containing whale bone, 20 November 2011  .

Remarks. These specimens are closest to the male specimens from the Walvis Ridge which Child 1882a assigned unconvincingly to S. mitrata ( Gordon, 1944)  however in the absence of a range of material it is difficult to compare adults and subadults of that little known species.

Sericosura mitrata ( Gordon, 1944)  was described from the MacRobertson Coast Antarctica from 219 m depth and later recorded from Walvis Ridge off SW Africa at 2117–2154 m depth ( Child 1982a) and the Ross Sea at 106 m depth ( Child 1994a). Child attributed several differences between the female holotype and his two male specimens from Walvis Ridge to sexual dimorphism, but I am of the view that both are distinct species. The two SWIR specimens are subadults, perhaps females, and I suspect that they represent further examples of Child’s Walvis Ridge specimens. Fortuitously Bamber (2009, Fig. 4View FIGURE 4) reexamined and refigured the female holotype of S. mitrata  and corrected several omissions from Gordon’s original description. In doing so Bamber made Child’s identification more tenable but though I am mindful of Bamber’s support for the attribution of the Walvis Ridge specimen to S. mitrata  , there are several morphological differences that extend beyond sexual dimorphism and cause me to question Child’s determination. Unlike the holotype of S. mitrata  the lateral processes of Child’s specimens are more widely separated (compare Bamber 2009, Fig. 4AView FIGURE 4), the “clearly seen” transverse body ridges observed by Gordon ( Fig. 19bView FIGURE 19) are not evident, the proboscis is much narrower, the auxiliary claws are longer and the abundant hair-like setae on the ventral surfaces of the tibiae are not present. Child (1982a) did not mention the shape of the abdomen but based on his Figure 6aView FIGURE 6, it is more likely arched as opposed to being almost straight in S. mitrata  ( Gordon 1944, Fig. 19bView FIGURE 19). Child’s Walvis Ridge specimens are typical deep-water blind forms recorded from 2117–2154 m depth whereas S. mitrata  is one of a few blind Sericosura  species recorded from relatively shallow water (106–219 m) and may indicate a further point of difference. The SWIR specimens share all significant characters with the Walvis Ridge specimens; clearly separated lateral processes, a distinctly bifurcate ocular tubercle, possession of strong spines on the distal margins of the scapes, auxiliary claws longer than half the length of the main claw and the spination pattern of the propodus. The genus Sericosura  is mostly associated with hydrothermal vents and cold seeps but neither these SWIR specimens nor Child’s Walvis Ridge specimens appear to be associated with these geological features. The geographical distribution of S. mitrata  is described by Child (1994a) as “wide but scattered” and “enigmatic” by Bamber (2009) but should it be established that the Walvis Ridge specimens are a distinct species then this anomaly would be largely resolved. I am disregarding the unreported ‘probable’ record of a juvenile S. mitrata  from the mid-Atlantic Ridge (see Child 1994a) until such time as that particular specimen is re-examined.

The ocular tubercle in both specimens is distinctly bifurcate but that of the larger specimen ( Plate 3D, EView PLATE 3) was inadvertently squashed below the surface prior to being photographed and is no longer visible. All propodi are of a uniform size and shape. The chelifores of the larger specimen are extended from the cephalon with most of the scapes showing. The chela is separated from the scape by a wide (presumably extended) membrane ( Fig. 9AView FIGURE 9). Each scape has three or four strong distal spines. The chelifores of the smaller specimen are withdrawn beneath the cephalic hood with only the chelae exposed. The tip of the oviger in the larger specimen bears two simple spines ( Fig. 9BView FIGURE 9). The abdomen is articulated at its base and arched with several dorsal and distal spines ( Fig. 9CView FIGURE 9). Unlike the over-reaching abdomen of the larger specimen, the abdomen of the smaller specimen is directed downwards between the fourth lateral processes but the abdomen is very flexible in the vertical plane. Both of these specimens are chelate with only partially developed ovigers. A cement gland duct is not evident in either specimen. Developing ovigers are present but segmentation is incomplete.

Wang et al. (2018) recorded a juvenile specimen which they hesitantly referred to S. heteroscela Child & Segonzac, 1996  based mainly on the forward-leaning, bifurcate ocular tubercle and compact legs. It is likely that the juvenile specimen recorded by Wang et al. and these specimens from the Coral Seamount are one and the same species and represent juveniles and subadults of Child’s Walvis Ridge specimen. Should I be correct in identifying the SWIR specimens as subadult forms of an independent species then the distribution of S. heteroscela  cannot be

said to extend from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (SW of the Azores Islands) to the southern hemisphere as proposed by Wang et al.

Figures of the subadult chela, oviger and abdomen are provided but otherwise there is nothing to add to Child’s figures of the adult specimen.

Wang et al. (2018) described S. duanqiaoensis  from the Duanquiao hydrothermal field on the SWIR but unlike the present material that species has a low, non-bifurcate ocular tubercle, dimorphic legs and is far more setose.













Staples, David A. 2019



Fry & Hedgpeth 1969



Fry & Hedgpeth 1969


Sericosura mitrata (

Gordon 1944