2020 Volume 15 Issue 4 Pages 296-305
On April 10, 2015, three individuals of an undescribed species of ctenophore were observed moving just above the seafloor in the Arecibo Amphitheater inside the Guajataca Canyon, north-northwest of Puerto Rico at a depth of approximately 3,900 m. The ctenophore is distinctive; having two prominent tentacle arms, a body that is rectangular when observed laterally along the tentacular plane, and rounded when observed laterally along the stomodeal plane. The tentacle arms each give rise to an extensible tentacle bearing short tentilla of uniform length and distribution. One ctenophore appeared to be anchored to the seafloor by its two long flexible tentacles, as well as by two filaments exiting its oral end. The overall form of the ctenophore suggests classification within the problematic, non-monophyletic order Cydippida, but the robust tentacle arms are more reminiscent of benthic species of Platyctenida, particularly those of families Lyroctenidae and Ctenoplanidae. Whereas most platyctenid ctenophores do not possess ctene rows in their adult forms, features that are possessed by the new species described herein, species of Ctenoplanidae retain comb rows as adults and are capable of limited swimming. The species described herein is easily distinguishable from all other known species of Ctenophora and may trace its origin to a lineage diverging near the origin of Platyctenida.