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Branchiostoma lanceolatum.jpg
Branchiostoma lanceolatum from Belgium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Cephalochordata
Class: Leptocardii
Order: Amphioxiformes
Family: Branchiostomidae
Genus: Branchiostoma
Costa, 1834
Type species
Branchiostoma lanceolatum
(Pallas, 1774)
About 11 species

Amphioxus Yarrel, 1836[1]

Branchiostoma is one of the few living genera of lancelets (order Amphioxiformes). It is the type genus of family Branchiostomidae.

Anatomical diagram of B. lanceolatum (click for description)

These small vaguely eel- or snake-like animals are close relatives of vertebrates. The scientific name means "gill-mouth", referring to their anatomy – unlike vertebrates, they do not have a true head (with a skull capsule, eyes, nose, a well-developed brain etc.), but merely a mouth adjacent to the gill-slits, with the slightly enlarged anterior end of the dorsal nerve cord above and in front of them.

Like all lancelets, they are filter feeders that hide in the sediment most of the time. The genus inhabits coastal waters throughout the world.


Lancelet biodiversity is not very well studied; other as yet undescribed species (perhaps including cryptic species) might await discovery.


External links[edit]

Media related to Branchiostoma at Wikimedia Commons