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Deep-Sea Echinoderms of New Zealand



Order Cidaroida

Family Cidaridae

Goniocidaris Agassiz & Desor, 1847

Goniocidaris umbraculum Hutton

  • Hutton, F. W., 1879. Cat. Echin. N.Z., p. 10.

Material Examined: Thirty individuals, from the following deep-water hauls: 250–300 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 53, 1 specimen; 200–300 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 51, 2 specimens; 50–200 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 54, 22 specimens.

The species has previously been recorded as ranging from Cook Strait to Foveaux Strait, at depths of 40–60 fathoms (see Fell 1954, pp. 40–41).

Subgenus Aspidocidaris Mortensen, 1928

Basal disc on primary radioles more or less developed, and terminal disc usually well developed, often forming large round discs which cover the whole apical side. Secondary spines flattened, with a straight-cut end.

The subgenus has not hitherto been reported from New Zealand. One species, Goniocidaris (Aspidocidaris) australiae Mortensen, is known from Australia, three occur in the Indonesian-Philippines region, and two others in Japanese waters. The New Zealand form is apparently different from any of those.

Goniocidaris (Aspidocidaris) parasol sp. nov. Plate 3, Fig. B, Plate 5, Fig. b; (both holotype).

Diagnosis: Test flattened above and below, the sides arched, ambitus rounded, apical system ca. half h.d., peristome one third h.d. Ambulacra weakly sinuate, ca. 16% IA. At the ambitus about seven amb plates occur opposite an IA plate. Interporiferous area 3–4 times broader than the poriferous area. Pores oblique. Marginal tubercles in vertical linear series.

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Plate 5

Plate 5

a, Pseudechinus flemingi sp. nov., immature paratype of ca. 25 mm h.d., showing relatively long primary spines at that stage, b, Goniocidaris (Aspidocidaris) parasol sp. nov., holotype, partly denuded. Both echinoids to the same scale, as shown.

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Internal tubercles 2 or 3 to each plate, in more or less vertical linear series. The median area is sunken, completely naked, and forms a conspicuous, vertical furrow, weakly sinuous but not following a zig-zag course, and with no abrupt changes in its width from plate to plate. About 7 IA plates. Primaries cylindrical, slender, developing a wide distal disc in the case of the adapical radioles; the disc is somewhat excentric, the adapical side being larger. In the adult, a fully-formed disc is almost as large as the apical area, and about 15 to 20 such discs may be present, forming a complete shielding system over the aboral surface. Oral primaries more or less spearhead-shaped, with lateral teeth sometimes evident near the base.

Material Examined: Five specimens from 130 fathoms, Station 34, Chatham Islands Expedition 1954.

Holotype: In the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, H.d. 27 mm, ht. 17 mm. Colour in life, radioles pale purple or mauve, the secondaries and miliaries a rich red-brown. Test, when cleaned, creamy white.

Remarks: A fuller description, with photographic figures, will be given in the official report of the Chatham Islands Expedition. From the diagnosis above, it will be evident that the two species most similar to G. parasol are G. australiae Mortensen and the Japanese G. clypeata Döderlein. G. parasol is distinguished from both species by the greater development in the adult of the apical discs, by the broad, almost straight, sunken, naked furrow in the interporiferous area, with no trace of zig-zag furrows, by the colour of the primary radioles, and the arrangement of the internal tubercles on the ambulacral plates. From G. clypeata it is further distinguished by lacking the deckled edge to the disc, and by having the adapical side of the disc larger than the abapical side.

Ogmocidaris Mortensen, 1921

Ogmocidaris benhami Mortensen

  • Mortensen, Th., 1921. Vid. Medd. dansk naturh. For., 73, 151.

Material Examined: Seventy-five specimens from the following deep-water stations: 400 fathoms, off Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty, Dom. Mus. Station B.S.210, 1 large individual (h.d. 30 mm, longest primaries 70 mm), and several juveniles; 290 fathoms, Chatham Rise, Station 59, Chatham Islands Expedition 1954, 1 specimen; 270 fathoms, off Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty, Dom. Mus. Station B.S. 209, 10 specimens; 200 fathoms, S. of Cape Kidnappers, Kotuku Station 5, J. A. F. Garrick, 1 specimen; 124 fathoms, Bay of Plenty, Station N.P.6, 56 specimens; same region, N.P.9, 2 specimens; 113–120 fathoms, off Mayor Island, Dom. Mus. Station B.S.208, 1 specimen.

Mortensen (1921, p. 151) drew attention to the fact that Benham (1909) had confused Porocidaris elegans Agassiz (now referred to the genus Histocidaris) and Ogmocidaris benhami; later Mortensen (1928, p. 76) noted that the erroneous record of Histocidaris elegans from New Zealand rested on this confusion. Whilst identifying echinoderms at the Dominion Museum recently I was surprised to find two specimens of Histocidaris elegans in the collection, one of them labelled "Ogmocidaris benhami", the other "Porocidaris". Both of the specimens were labelled as from "300 miles east of Cape Farewell, in 1,100 fathoms, H.M.S. Challenger". Reference to the Challenger Station list shows that, although a station (No. 165c) was worked "334 miles from Cape Farewell, in 1,100 fathoms", it was not a bottom-sample, and no echinoids or other bottom-dwelling animals are recorded as having been taken. On the other hand, at the preceding station, No. 164, off the coast of New South Wales, a number of specimens of Porocidaris elegans were obtained (the holotype included). Probably, therefore, the specimens at the Dominion Museum were derived from New South Wales, and the error in locality on the labels arose from a previous error in writing 165c instead of 164. It is not known how this Challenger material came to be deposited at the Dominion Museum, but it may be inferred that some exchange was negotiated when the vessel was in Wellington. A large pycnogonid in the museum of the Department of Zoology, Victoria University, is believed to have been acquired from the Challenger in this way.

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Order Echinothurioida

Family Echinothuriidae

Phormosoma Wyville Thomson, 1874

Phormosoma rigidum Agassiz
  • Agassiz, A., 1881. Challenger Echinoidea, p. 104, Pl. 12.

Material Examined: None.

The holotype was taken at Challenger Station 169, in 700 fathoms, off East Cape.

Phormosoma bursarium Agassiz
  • Agassiz, A., 1881. Challenger Echinoidea, p. 99, Pl. 10.

Material Examined: Two specimens from the Chatham Islands Expedition 1954, one from Station 41, 330 fathoms ("rich, saturated red-purple", G. A. Knox), the other from Station 6, in 220 fathoms, on the Chatham Rise.

The species has not been recorded from New Zealand before, but as it is known to be wide-ranging in the Pacific, its occurrence was to be expected.

Araeosoma Mortensen, 1903

Araeosoma thetidis (H. L. Clark)

  • Asthenosoma thetidis Clark, H. L. 1909. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 52, p. 134.

Material Examined: Four individuals: also a large, isolated primary hoof, believed to be of this species, from 400 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 87; 100–130 fathoms, off Plate Island, Bay of Plenty, coll. F. J. Shirley of the Zuyder Zee, 5/6/1957, 1 specimen; 40–125 fathoms, Bay of Plenty, N.P.8, 2 specimens and 60–100 fathoms, N.P.9, 1 large specimen, h.d. 180 mm.

This large and striking species, of a deep red-purple colour, was first taken by the Terra Nova in 70 fathoms, off North Cape, see Mortensen (1921).

Asthenosoma Grube, 1868

Asthenosoma gracile Agassiz

  • Agassiz, A., 1881. Challenger Echinoidea, p. 89. Pl. 17.

Material Examined: None.

Recorded from Challenger Station 169, in 700 fathoms, off East Cape.

Order Temnopleuroida

Family Temnopleuridae

Temnopleurus L. Agassiz, 1841

"Temnopleurus reynaudi" Agassiz.

  • Agassiz, A., 1881. Challenger Echinoidea, p. 107.

Material Examined: None.

Recorded from Challenger Station 166, in 275 fathoms, 199 miles north-west of Cape Farewell. This record needs investigation.

Pseudechinus Mortensen, 1903

Pseudechinus huttoni Benham
  • Benham, W. B., 1908. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 8, p. 104.

Material Examined: Nine specimens from deep water, as under: 250–300 fathoms, off E. Otago, Dom. Mus. Station B.S.191, 7 specimens; 120 fathoms, off E. Otago, edge of Canyon A, Dom. Mus. Station B.S.189, 2 specimens.

The species has previously been recorded from shelf stations.

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Pseudechinus flemingi sp. nov. Plate 3, Fig. A (holotype), B; Plate 5, Fig. a, paratype.

Diagnosis: Test hemispherical, the oral side rather flattened in the adult stage. Primary ambulacral tubercles contiguous throughout the ambulacrum; enlarged secondary tubercles form a vertical series adradial to the primaries, but these tubercles are much smaller than the primaries. Primary interambulacral tubercles not contiguous; enlarged secondary tubercles lie on either side of the primary, on the admedial side about 2 larger ones and 2 or 3 smaller ones, on the adradial side 2–6 usually arranged in horizontal series of 2 or 3, either one series or two such series occurring on alternating plates. The miliary tubercles are scattered thinly on the surface, but around the primary tubercle they form linear series, which are feebly united by sculptured ridges into a radiating pattern of spokes. On immature specimens a similar pattern is seen investing the primary tubercle of each ambulacral plate also, but this later disappears (compare Figs. A and C, Plate 5). Oculars all exsert. Primary spines 20 to 30 mm long.

Holotype: Test h.d. 52 mm, ht. 29 mm, in the Dominion Museum, Wellington.

Material Examined: Over 300 specimens (but mostly juveniles, many of them broken) from the following deep-water stations: 250–300 fathoms, Canyon B, off east Otago, Dom. Mus. Station B.S.191, 16/8/1955, holotype specimen and one other smaller individual; 330 fathoms, Station 41. Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, about 300 specimens; 260 fathoms, Station 52, Chatham Rise, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 5 specimens; 220 fathoms, Station 6, Chatham Rise, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 5 specimens; also other material from 30 to 94 fathoms from Mernoo Bank and Station 29, in the Chatham Islands area.

Colour in life (and in spirit), the spines a brilliant orange-red, or deep salmon tint, with white tips. These are normally so densely matted as to obscure the underlying test but this, when denuded, is seen to be a rich rose-red with paler rose tubercles. The species is the most brilliantly coloured echinoid so far discovered in the New Zealand fauna, and is much brighter than Pseudechinus albocinctus (Hutton), a species which it otherwise much resembles.

Remarks: In the form of the test, the general preponderance of red colours, the white-tipped spines, and the arrangement of the tubercles in vertical and horizontal rows, Pseudechinus flemingi agrees closely with P. albocinctus. The two species are otherwise very different in appearance because the spines in albocinctus, though white-tipped, do not exceed 12 mm in length, and do not obscure the test, and their dull reddish-brown colour contrasts with the brilliant orange-red or deep salmon colour of flemingi. Obvious differences in the denuded test are the absence of the radiating sculpture from albocinctus, and the presence of weak crenulation on the primary tubercles of albocinctus. In the adult stage flemingi also presents weak admedian grooves on aboral interambulacral plates. No other species of Pseudechinus is at all closely related.

The presence of the weak radial sculpture and the admedian interambulacral grooves is a Temnopleurid character not hitherto reported from any species of Pseudechinus, and provides welcome evidence that the genus is correctly placed in the family Temnopleuridae. It is desirable to state here, however, that a careful examination of very young specimens of Pseudechinus albocinctus and Pseudechinus novaezelandiae from South Island stations has revealed faint traces of such radiating sculpture on the test plates. This disappears long before maturity is reached.

Pseudechinus flemingi occurs in Castlecliffian (Pleistocene) sediments near Wanganui, and has been known to me for some time through specimens collected by Dr. C. A. Fleming of the New Zealand Geological Survey. The fortunate discovery of living examples enables a recent specimen to be selected as the holotype.

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Order Clypeasteroida

Family Clypeasteridae

Clypeaster Lamarck, 1801

Clypeaster australasiae (Gray)

  • Echinanthus australasiae Gray 1851. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., p. 34.

Material Examined: Three specimens, two of which possibly are from beyond the continental shelf: Station N.P.8, 40–125 fathoms, Bay of Plenty, 2 specimens; 60–100 fathoms, N.P.9, Bay of Plenty, 1 specimen.

All material so far recorded from New Zealand has been from this area (see Fell, 1949, p. 345).

Family Laganidae

Peronella Gray, 1855

Peronella hinemoae Mortensen

  • Mortensen, Th., 1921. Vid. Medd. dansk. naturh. For., 73.

Material Examined: Seven specimens from the same two stations, N.P.8 and N.P.9 given under Clypeaster australasiae immediately above.

Order Spatangoida

Family Spatangidae

Spatangus Gray, 1825
Spatangus multispinus Mortensen
  • Mortensen, Th., Vid. Medd. dansk naturh. For., 79, p. 413.

Material Examined: Sixty-three specimens from deep water, apart from shelf specimens which are not listed: 435 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 77, fragments; 400 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 96, 1 small specimen; 250–350 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 53, 30 specimens; 330 fathoms, Station 41, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 1 specimen; 290 fathoms, Chatham Rise, Station 59, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 2 specimens; 280 fathoms, Chatham Rise, Station 7, 18 specimens; 260 fathoms, Chatham Rise, Station 52, 10 specimens; 220 fathoms, Chatham Rise, Station 6, 1 specimen.

Remarks: Until now, the only specimen for which a precise locality and depth had been recorded was one taken in 20 fathoms off Cape Campbell (Fell, 1952, p. 35); Mortensen's type was received by him without details. It is now evident, from the rich material listed above, that the species is decidedly a deep-water one, and that the odd specimens we have received from the Cook Strait shelf are probably derived from the deep-water population near at hand. As Mortensen (1951) points out, Spatangus multispinus is closely related to S. raschi Lovén, of European seas, differing mainly in having the test more flattened on the aboral side.

Paramaretia Mortensen, 1950
Paramaretia multituberculata Mortensen
  • Mortensen, Th., 1950. Vid. Medd. dansk naturh. For., 112, p. 160.

Material Examined: Twenty-five specimens, and fragments of others, from the following deep-water stations: 330 fathoms, Station 41, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition (specimens are visible in a colour film made at this station, though they are not represented in the collection submitted); 280 fathoms, Chatham Rise, Station 7, Chatham Rise, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 2 specimens; 260 fathoms, Chatham Rise, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 2 specimens; 155 fathoms, Station 40, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 21 specimens.

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Remarks: This is a new record for New Zealand, the species having previously been taken only in Bass Strait. Photographs of the New Zealand form will be given in the official report of the Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition. The "large, but fragmentary Palaeopneustid echinoid" mentioned as having been taken at Discovery Station 2733 (Chatham Rise) (Fell 1952, p. 2) proves to be this species. An unbroken specimen was later sent to me for identification by the Discovery authorities, but was unfortunately broken in transit. The identification, however, is beyond doubt.

Family Loveniidae

Echinocardium Gray, 1825

Echinocardium cordatum (Pennant)

  • Echinus cordatus Pennant, T., 1777. British Zoology, 4, p. 58, Pl. 34.

Material Examined: Numerous specimens of which 11 are from stations beyond the continental shelf: 154 fathoms, Milford Sound, N.Z. Oceanographic Institute Station A319, 5 specimens; 130 fathoms, Milford Sound, N.Z. Oceanographic Institute Station A320, 6 specimens.

Family Brissidae

Brissopsis L. Agassiz, 1840

Brissopsis oldhami Alcock

  • Brissopsis oldhami Alcock, 1893. J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal, 62, p. 174, Pl. 8 (7–8).
  • Brissopsis zealandiae Mortensen Th., 1921. Vid. Medd. dansk naturh. For., 73, p. 193, Pl. 6, 33–34.

Material Examined: About 300 specimens from the following stations: 550 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 101, about 30 specimens; 430 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 97, 5 specimens; 435 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 77, very abundant—about 200 specimens brought back to land; 400 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 87, several specimens; 380 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 96, 40 specimens; 380 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 100, several specimens; 250–350 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 53, 2 juvenile forms; 200–250 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 10, 9 specimens; 50–200 fathoms, Cook Strait, VUZ Station 54, 2 juvenile specimens; 330 fathoms, Station 41, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 23 juvenile specimens; 260 fathoms, Station 52, Chatham Rise, Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition, 3 juvenile specimens.

Remarks: Until now the genus Brissopsis has been recorded from New Zealand on only two occasions, one as Brissopsis luzonica, collected by the Challenger at Station 168, 1,100 fathoms, off Cape Kidnappers (Agassiz, 1881, p. 189), the other by Mortensen (1921), as Brissopsis zealandiae, at a depth of 75 metres, off Bare Island (holotype and one paratype). The very rich material now at our disposal makes it desirable to reassess the systematic status of the earlier records.

First, as regards "Brissopsis luzonica", it can be stated that this probably rests upon an error of identification. Following the recent discovery of large numbers of Brissopsis oldhami Alcock at Cook Strait abyssal stations, with no sign of other species, it appeared possible that the Challenger record might have been based on the latter species. Accordingly I forwarded two Cook Strait specimens to Miss A. M. Clark at the British Museum of Natural History and asked if they could be compared with the Challenger specimens of "B. luzonica" from Station 168. Miss Clark kindly located the Challenger material. There proved to be only a single specimen which, Miss Clark writes (personal communication 28/11/1957) "is very small and very broken. The apical system remains in one piece and although there are only 6 or 7 pore-pairs in the posterior petals they appear to form a straight, rather than sinuous page 39line, the two petals diverging. I think you can say it is not luzonica". The condition described by Miss Clark recalls that found in the young stage of B. oldhami.

Brissopsis zealandiae was established by Mortensen (1921) on the basis of two small specimens, said to be distinguished from B. oldhami in having 5 (instead of 4) ambulacral plates cut by the subanal fasciole, the posterior petals more divergent, an elevated periproct, smaller size, and small genital pores; the photograph of the holotype also indicates a more compact test, with steeper anterior and posterior faces, than in B. oldhami. After examining the very large sample of Brissopsis oldhami from Cook Strait, including specimens of a wide range of size, I have come to the following conclusions. (1) In most specimens it is difficult to decide exactly how many plates enter the subanal fasciole, but in those specimens where the outlines are quite distinct, the character is variable—either 4 or 5 ambulacral plates are involved with about equal frequency, and sometimes 4 plates plus a minute portion of a fifth plate. (2) The posterior petals are divergent in the size-range corresponding to that of Mortensen's types, but they become successively less so with increasing size (i.e., age). (3) The periproct may be elevated or not, according to the specimen. (4) There is no sharp distinction in size—the large specimens corresponding to Alcock's form intergrade imperceptibly with the smaller stages corresponding to Mortensen's. From VUZ Station 77 every stage from 10 mm to 80 mm length form one homogeneous population. (5) The size of the genital pores varies, though they are always relatively large in adult stages. In the small stages corresponding to Mortensen's material the pores are sometimes very small, but this scarcely means anything more than that they are juvenile stages of a large species. (6) Shape—here there appeared to be a hiatus between my material and Mortensen's type. However. Mortensen (1951, p. 397) mentioned that a second specimen was sent to the Dominion Museum. As this was not figured by him, I applied to Dr. R. K. Dell for permission to examine it. To my surprise it proves to have precisely the same shape as that normal for all my young stages of oldhami, and I am now convinced that Mortensen's holotype was abnormal in that one regard. Also the subanal region of the syntype had not been denuded, and it is difficult to distinguish reliably how many plates enter the fasciole unless this is done. It is therefore clear that Mortensen's original description must have been based mainly on the holotype only. In view of the evidence here assembled I conclude that Brissopsis zealandiae is a synonym of B. oldhami Alcock, and that all New Zealand specimens of Brissopsis so far seen are to be referred to the latter species. Photographs of the new material will be included in the official report of the Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition.