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  1. Serial block-face scanning electron microscopy of the tail tip of post-metamorphic amphioxus (Branchiostoma floridae) revealed some terminal myomeres never been seen before with other techniques. The morphology of these myomeres differed markedly from the chevron shapes of their more anterior counterparts. Histologically, these odd-shaped myomeres ranged from empty vesicles bordered by undifferentiated cells to ventral sacs composed of well-developed myotome, dermatome, and sclerotome. Strikingly, several of these ventral sacs gave rise to a nipple-like dorsal projection composed either entirely of sclerotome or a mixture of sclerotome and myotome. Considered as a whole, from posterior to anterior, these odd-shaped posterior myomeres suggested that their more substantial ventral part may represent the ventral limb of a chevron, while the delicate projection represents a nascent dorsal limb. This scenario contrasts with formation of chevron-shaped myomeres along most of the antero-posterior axis. Although typical chevron formation in amphioxus is surprisingly poorly studied, it seems to be attained by a dorso-ventral extension of the myomere accompanied by the assumption of a V-shape; this is similar to what happens (at least superficially) in developing fishes. Another unusual feature of the odd-shaped posterior myomeres of amphioxus is their especially distended sclerocoels. One possible function for these might be to protect the posterior end of the central nervous system from trauma when the animals burrow into the substratum. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  2. AbstractWithin phylum Chordata, the subphylum Cephalochordata (amphioxus and lancelets) has figured large in considerations of the evolutionary origin of the vertebrates. To date, these discussions have been predominantly based on knowledge of a single cephalochordate genus (Branchiostoma), almost to the exclusion of the other two genera (Asymmetron and Epigonichthys). This uneven pattern is illustrated by cephalochordate hematology, until now known entirely from work done on Branchiostoma. The main part of the present study is to describe hemocytes in the dorsal aorta of a species of Asymmetron by serial block-face scanning electron microscopy. This technique, which demonstrates three-dimensional fine structure, showed that the hemocytes have a relatively uniform morphology characterized by an oval shape and scanty cytoplasm. Ancillary information is also included for Branchiostoma hemocytes, known from previous studies to have relatively abundant cytoplasm; our serial block-face scanning electron microscopy provides more comprehensive views of the highly variable shapes of these cells, which typically extend one or several pseudopodium-like protrusions. The marked difference in hemocyte morphology found between Asymmetron and Branchiostoma was unexpected and directs attention to investigating comparable cells in the genus Epigonichthys. A broader knowledge of the hemocytes in all three cephalochordate genera would provide more balanced insights into the evolution of vertebrate hematopoiesis. 
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