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Branchiostoma lanceolatum from Belgium
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Leptocardii
Order: Amphioxiformes
Family: Branchiostomatidae
Genus: Branchiostoma
Costa, 1834
Type species
Branchiostoma lanceolatum
(Pallas, 1774)
About 11 species
  • Amphioxus Yarrel, 1836[1]
  • Limax Pallas 1774 non von Linné 1758 non Férussac 1819 non Martyn 1784
  • Dolichorhynchus Willey 1901 non Mulk & Jairajpuri 1974 non Hedge & Kit-Tan 1987

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

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. It dislikes the light.

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



  1. ^ "Report of the United States Commissioner of Fisheries for the fiscal year 1928 with appendixes — Part II" (PDF). 1928. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  2. ^ "UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO) - Branchiostoma mortonense Kelly, 1966".
  3. ^ "WoRMS - World Register of Marine Species - Branchiostoma mortonense Kelly, 1966".

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