<i>Dendrogramma</i>, new genus, with two new non-bilaterian species from the marine bathyal of southeastern Australia (Animalia, Metazoa <i>incertae sedis</i>) – with similarities to some medusoids from the Precambrian Ediacara
1 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Statens Naturhistoriske Museum, Københavns Universitet3 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
A new genus, Dendrogramma, with two new species of multicellular, non-bilaterian, mesogleal animals with some bilateral aspects, D. enigmatica and D. discoides, are described from the south-east Australian bathyal (400 and 1000 metres depth). A new family, Dendrogrammatidae, is established for Dendrogramma. These mushroom-shaped organisms cannot be referred to either of the two phyla Ctenophora or Cnidaria at present, because they lack any specialised characters of these taxa. Resolving the phylogenetic position of Dendrogramma depends much on how the basal metazoan lineages (Ctenophora, Porifera, Placozoa, Cnidaria, and Bilateria) are related to each other, a question still under debate. At least Dendrogramma must have branched off before Bilateria and is possibly related to Ctenophora and/or Cnidaria. Dendrogramma, therefore, is referred to Metazoa incertae sedis. The specimens were fixed in neutral formaldehyde and stored in 80% ethanol and are not suitable for molecular analysis. We recommend, therefore, that attempts be made to secure new material for further study. Finally similarities between Dendrogramma and a group of Ediacaran (Vendian) medusoids are discussed.