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Echinoderms from Southern New Zealand

Pectinura maculata (Verrill, 1869)

Pectinura maculata (Verrill, 1869)

  • New Golden Hind station NGH 57a, one specimen.
  • Alert stations: 3, one adult; 12, one young specimen; 13, eight young specimens and six half-grown.
  • Ruapuke oyster beds, Foveaux Strait, 12 fathoms, February, 1951; B. M. Bary; two specimens (extremely abundant).

The young of this large species have not hitherto been recognized; indeed, their colouring and general appearance are so different from that of the adult that, were it not for the taking of a consecutive series of stages, they would not have been recognized on the present occasion. In the stage at which the animal is about two centimetres to four centimetres in diameter, the arms are vermilion and the disc ochre. with a dark orange periphery, orange below. In dissecting a specimen from station 13 (Dusky Sound), I was surprised to find the stomach packed with what appeared to be some kind of flower (the specimen was dredged in 12 to 15 fathoms). Subsequently, Dr. J. G. Gibbs, of Victoria University College Botany Department, identified the material as anthers of Southern Beech, Nothofagus sp. page 25 This was later confirmed by Mr. W. F. Harris, of the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research; he states: 'The pollen was of Nothofagus; 52 grains were measured and pore counts were made simultaneously on 26 grains. There were 16 per cent. with seven pores and 84 per cent. with eight pores. The size range was 29μ to 39μ, with an average of 34μ." The ophiuroid had been selectively feeding upon the anthers, since nothing else was in the stomach. This is only the second record to my knowledge of an echinoderm feeding upon terrestrial plant material; the other is the case of a deep-sea echinoid in the East Indies which feeds upon the leaves of dicotyledonous trees washed out to sea by rivers.