Pterosoma planumRoger R. Seapy
Pterosoma is a monotypic genus represented by the Indo-Pacific species P. planum. The transparent trunk, with whitish minute dish-shaped inclusions and surface tubercles, is expanded as an oblong disk that is flattened dorso-ventrally. The trunk terminates in a tapering tail. The visceral nucleus arises from a short, mobile stalk and is covered by a flattened shell. The shell is divided medially into two lateral halves by a low carina, homologous with the keel in Carinaria. The carina runs the length of the shell, beginning at the posterior end abutting the protoconch. While swimming, the visceral nucleus is raised dorsally, exposing the gills to inflowing water, but if disturbed it is retracted into a longitudinal groove on the surface of the trunk. The proboscis is moderately short, extending ventrally beneath the anterior margin of the trunk.
Carinariid heteropods with:
- Trunk expanded, forming an oblong disk that is flattened dorso-ventrally
- Visceral nucleus arises from short stalk and is covered by a flattened shell
- Tapering tail extends posteriorly from trunk
- Proboscis extends ventrally from beneath anterior margin of trunk
- Body morphology
- Trunk greatly expanded laterally, forming an oblong disk that is flattened dorso-ventrally (in the image below right, the trunk anterior to the visceral nucleus is rotated ventrally; for a full lateral view, see Lalli and Gilmer, 1989, color figure 4)
- Trunk highly transparent, embedded with minute whitish, disk-shaped inclusions and covered on the surface with whitish tubercles Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Figure. Dorso-lateral view of elevated visceral nucleus and gills in Pterosoma planum. In the photograph, low whitish tubercles are seen on surface of the trunk, and imbedded minute, disk-shaped inclusions are visible below and to the left of the gills. ©
- Visceral nucleus dorso-ventrally compressed, arising from a flexible short stalk
- Tail extends posteriorly, tapering to a narrow terminal section (see images under 1.a)
- Shell dorso-ventrally compressed, covering the visceral nucleus
- Shell divided medially (in the anterior-posterior axis) by a low carina whose height increases somewhat anteriorly
- Coiled protoconch (larval shell) at posterior end of teleoconch (adult shell)
- Larval shell globular, right side of shell with smooth surface except for low radiating ridges on second whorl, and umbilicus open with radiating striae on wall of umbilicus
- Swimming fin well-developed; fin sucker large, located dorsally on the posterior margin of the fin; sucker present in both sexes (see title illustration)
- Eyes and tentacles
- Eyes broadly triangular in dorsal view
- Left tentacle large and right one very reduced (note prominent left tentacle in title illustration)
Observations of free-swimming Pterosoma planum in aquaria aboard ship (Seapy, unpublished) revealed that the stalked visceral nucleus is normally elevated dorsally, exposing the gills and the visceral nucleus to inflowing water (see photographs under 1.a above). However, when individuals were prodded with a blunt probe, the visceral nucleus (covered dorsally by the flattened shell) was rapidly retracted into a longitudinal groove on the dorsal surface of the trunk. Hypothetically, the act of prodding an individual simulates disturbance by a predator, and the vulnerable soft tissues of the gills and visceral nucleus are protected beneath the shell.
In the book on holoplanktonic gastropod snails by Lalli and Gilmer (1989:32), the in-situ field observations of swimming Pterosoma planum by Gilmer were described: "Pterosoma has large opalescent spots covering the central body in both sexes; these spots continually change in brilliance and pattern as the animals swim." While the "central body" undoubtedly refers to the trunk, the nature of the "opalescent spots" is unclear since the only structures clearly visible on the trunk surface in net-captured specimens (Seapy, pers. obs.) are the surface tubercles described above under 1.b. Conceivably, the "opalescent spots" and the behavior observed by Gilmer may be limited to animals in-situ. Despite observing active and apparently healthy specimens swimming freely in aquaria aboard ship for extended periods of time (Seapy, pers. obs.), the observations of Gilmer were never seen.
Lalli, C. M. and R. W. Gilmer. 1989. Pelagic snails. The biology of holoplanktonic gastropod snails. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 259 pp.
Richter, G. and R. R. Seapy. 1999. Heteropoda, pp. 621-647. In: D. Boltovskoy (ed.), South Atlantic Zooplankton. Leiden: Backhuys Publ.
Seapy, R. R. and C. Thiriot-Quievreux. 1994. Veliger larvae of Carinariidae (Mollusca: Heteropoda) from Hawaiian waters. Veliger 37:336-343.
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Roger R. Seapy at
Page copyright © 2007
Page: Tree of Life Pterosoma Authored by . Pterosoma planum . Roger R. Seapy. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.
- First online 10 December 2007
- Content changed 10 December 2007
Citing this page:
Seapy, Roger R. . 2007. Pterosoma http://tolweb.org/Pterosoma_planum/28743/2007.12.10 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Pterosoma planum . Version 10 December 2007.