The ‘scaly-foot gastropod’: a new genus and species of hydrothermal vent-endemic gastropod (Neomphalina: Peltospiridae) from the Indian Ocean
The ‘scaly-foot gastropod’ is widely recognized as an iconic species of deep-sea hydrothermal vent ecosystems in the Indian Ocean. Uniquely among gastropods, this species carries hundreds of dermal sclerites on its foot and these scales can be covered in iron sulphide that also covers its shell, making it the only extant metazoan known to utilize iron sulphide as part of its skeleton. It has not been formally named, despite attracting great attention from both scientists and the general public alike, although a manuscript name has occasionally been used in various sources. The RRS James Cook JC67 expedition in 2011 sampled the biota of the Longqi vent field (37°47.027′S, 49°38.963′E), Southwest Indian Ridge, for the first time, revealing a previously unknown population of the ‘scaly-foot gastropod’. The present study gives a formal name to the ‘scaly-foot gastropod’, Chrysomallon squamiferum n. gen., n. sp. with Longqi vent field as the type locality. The erection of the new monotypic genus is supported by both morphological and molecular characterization, differentiating it from existing genera of the family Peltospiridae. Analysis of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene reveals a 24–26% pairwise distance between Chrysomallon and five other genera of Peltospiridae, while the range among those five genera is 14–25%. The new genus is placed in the family Peltospiridae based on morphological characteristics, including lack of sexual dimorphism, no copulatory organ, the distal end of marginal teeth being subdivided into many denticles and the ventral margin of the gill leaflets carrying a series of bulges. A five-gene Bayesian phylogenetic reconstruction does not contradict the placement within Peltospiridae.
Authors: Chen, Chong, Linse, Katrin, Copley, Jonathan T., Rogers, Alex D.