Brooding deep-water onuphid polychaetes (Annelida) from the Bay of Biscay

Hannelore Paxton, Andrés Arias*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


We report on three species of deep-water onuphid polychaetes (Nothria maremontana, Paradiopatra hispanica and Rhamphobrachium brevibrachiatum) from the Bay of Biscay from depths of 468 to 1186 m. The three species contained eggs and/or juveniles inside the parental tubes and R. brevibrachiatum had a cocoon-like capsule attached on the outside of its tube containing fibres and sperm. We present brief taxonomic descriptions of the three species, including some observations on ontogenetic chaetal changes in N. maremontana. The brooded eggs ranged from 300 to 340 μm in diameter in N. maremontana, while R. brevibrachiatum eggs ranged from 390 to 450 μm; juveniles consisted of 6 chaetigers for N. maremontana and 6-45 chaetigers for P. hispanica. We describe and illustrate the eggs, juveniles and sperm capsule. Although the origin of the sperm capsule is questionable, we reject the possibility of an unrelated passenger and speculate that the structures contained inside the capsule are long, thin spermatophores of a type not previously known for onuphids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)892-905
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Biology Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Avilés Canyon
  • benthic fauna
  • Cantabrian Sea
  • direct development
  • Spain
  • sperm

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