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Comparative Study
. May-Jun 2008;10(3):326-38.
doi: 10.1111/j.1525-142X.2008.00241.x.

Early Embryonic Development of the Priapulid Worm Priapulus Caudatus

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Comparative Study

Early Embryonic Development of the Priapulid Worm Priapulus Caudatus

Sofia A Wennberg et al. Evol Dev. .

Abstract

The early cleavage up to gastrulation is described here for the priapulid worm Priapulus caudatus, contradicting and clarifying earlier partial reports on this topic. The cleavage pattern up to gastrulation is highly symmetrical, total, subequal, radial, and stereotypical. Gastrulation is intermediate between epiboly and invagination, and the mesendoderm may be derived from both cells of the first cleavage, thus differing significantly in its origin from that of many other protostomes. Priapulids occupy an increasingly important position in studies of animal evolution as they appear to be relatively basal within the new clade Ecdysozoa (panarthropods plus cycloneuralians); and have been described as both morphological and genetic living fossils. The insights derived from priapulids combined with new data published recently on kinorhynchs and tardigrades imply a substantial developmental diversity among basal ecdysozoans, and weakens the hypothesis that irregular cleavage is plesiomorphic to the entire clade. Further study is required to reconstruct basal cleavage patterns in both this clade, and indeed, the Bilateria as a whole.

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