New record of brittle star from south eastern Arabian Sea

Phylum: Echinodermata

Ophiosphaera insignis, ventral view of disc
Ophiosphaera insignis, entire organism in dorsal view

Class: Ophiuroidea Gray, 1840

Order: Ophiurida Müller & Troschel, 1840

Family: Amphiuridae Ljungman, 1867

Collection: SE Arabian Sea shelf, off Cape Comorin, 49 m. CAPE COMORIN – 7° 59.26′ N, 77° 10.767′ E, 49 m, 15.11.2010 (FORVSS 282, St. 8). Naturalist dredge.

Voucher No.: CMLRE IO/SS/ECD/00094 (FORV Referral Centre, CMLRE, Kochi)

Description: Disc diameter 2-3 mm, arms about 2-3 times this length. Disc distinctly domed and composed of a mosaic of small, hard scale-like plates; radial shields small, twice as long as wide, contiguous; outer edge of disc demarcated by a row of erect scales. Oral apparatus small; three glassy apical oral papillae, separated from two minute scale-like distal oral papillae by a wide diastema. Arm spines number 3 at the base of the arm, increasing to 6 at segment 4-5, decreasing beyond proximal part of the arm; lowermost arm spine conspicuously enlarged, about two times corresponding segment length, club-like and hollow, spines decreasing in length towards the dorsal side. Colour cream.

Biological association: Collected in association with echinoid Salmaciella dussumieri L. Agassiz in L. Agassiz & Desor, 1846 and the species is known to be epibiont on echinoids.

Remarks: This species is known to show sexual dimorphism; with a dwarf male being attached to the oral side of a larger female (Koehler 1930). Only two females were collected during the surveys, without any epibiont males.

Distribution: Seychelles, SE Arabian Sea, Malay Archipelago, Philippines, New Caledonia, Fiji.

Distribution map:

Map showing locations of previous records (circle) and present record from Indian waters (square) of Ophiosphaera insignis

Identified by: Parameswaran, Usha V.

Publication: Parameswaran U. V., V. N. Sanjeevan, Abdul Jaleel K. U., Vinu Jacob, Aiswarya Gopal, Anil Kumar V., M. Sudhakar (2017) An updated checklist of echinoderms of the South Eastern Arabian Sea, Marine Biodiversity. DOI: 10.1007/s12526-017-0732-1.

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