Barnacle cypris larvae show high morphological variation in the organs used in search of and attaching to a substratum. This variation may represent adaptation to the habitat of the species. Here, we studied SEM level morphologies of cypris antennular sensory and attachment organs in a deep-sea vent endemic species (Neoverruca sp.) and a vent/seep inhabiting species (Ashinkailepas seepiophila). We compare them with three species from other environments. The antennular morphologies of Neoverruca sp. and A. seepiophila were similar, which is consistent with recent molecular studies showing a close relationship of the two species. The setation pattern of the antennules was very conservative among species from various environments. In contrast, striking differences were observed in the structure of the attachment organ (the third antennular segment). Neoverruca sp. and A. seepiophila had no velum or a skirt surrounding the attachment disc on the third segment, while other cirripede cyprids almost always have either of these structures. In addition, both cyprids of A. seepiophila and Neoverruca sp. had the attachment disc angled toward the substratum, whereas it faces distally in cyprids from hard bottom inhabiting barnacles. We suggest that both velum/skirt and the angle of the attachment disc play an important role, when the antennules are contacting the substratum during surface exploration. Differences in attachment organ structures may be highly adaptive, enabling cirripede species to enter new habitats during evolution. J. Morphol. 277:594-602, 2016.
ASJC Scopus subject areas