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  1. ABSTRACT

    Antarctic animals share many traits that are attributed to evolution in a stable, extremely cold climate. Among invertebrates, development is exceptionally slow, making observational studies of development logistically challenging, particularly when conducted under natural conditions in the field. Using multiple deployments to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, we characterized the development, in the field, of an unidentified buccinoidean gastropod species with encapsulated development. Thirteen egg capsules collected at Granite Harbor, McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, were attached to natural rock and outplanted at a depth of ~25 m at the base of the McMurdo Intake Jetty on 2 December 2007, photographed on 5 October 2011 and 6 September 2012 and then returned to the laboratory on 27 November 2015. In 2015, four capsules were open and empty, five were open and contained a single large hatchling and the remaining four capsules were intact but not open, each containing a single large juvenile snail. To identify the developing embryos, we sequenced mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) from two hatchlings and compared those sequences with those from adults collected near the egg mass, as well as with sequences of other buccinoideans from GenBank. Based on the close match between hatchling and adult COImore »sequences (hatchling sequences differed from those of an adult at only 2 of 658 nucleotide positions), we identified the embryos as Antarctodomus thielei (Powell, 1958)). The egg mass morphology and development of this species have not been previously described. Our study shows that A. thielei has a development time of more than 8 years, which is the longest measured for any gastropod.

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