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Oral fimbriae and papillae in parasitic lampreys (Petromyzontiformes)


, : Oral fimbriae and papillae in parasitic lampreys (Petromyzontiformes). Environmental Biology of Fishes 66(3): 271-278

There are 38 species of living lampreys, 18 parasitic and 20 nonparasitic. The parasitic species feed as adults, while the nonparasitic do not. The taxonomy and systematics of the living lampreys is based primarily on dentition characters. Since the number of oral fimbriae and oral papillae have never been systematically investigated in lampreys, we compared them in 17 of the 18 parasitic lampreys to assess their usefulness as taxonomic characters. Both showed little variation with total length and sex within a species, while exhibiting greater variation between species. Parasitic species belonging to the three lamprey families could be distinguished using the number of oral fimbriae: southern hemisphere Mordaciidae (0) and Geotriidae (55-65) and northern hemisphere Petromyzontidae (81-144). However, the taxonomic usefulness of the two characters at the species level was limited. Ten out of the 17 species of parasitic lampreys were placed into four distinct groups based on their numbers of oral fimbriae, and only in two of these was the character diagnostic. Twelve out of the 17 species were placed into two distinct groups based on their numbers of oral papillae and for none of these was the character diagnostic. Blood feeders and intermediate feeders (blood + flesh) were shown to have significantly higher numbers of oral fimbriae than flesh feeders. The higher numbers of oral fimbriae in the former two types of feeders were presumed to be linked to their greater need to create a good seal for feeding purposes. Blood feeders were also shown to have significantly higher numbers of oral papillae than either intermediates or flesh feeders. The higher numbers of oral papillae in the blood feeders were presumed to be linked to their greater need to find suitable attachment sites for feeding purposes.

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