Radicipes gracilis ( Verrill, 1884 )

Perez, Carlos D., 2017, A revision of the genus Radicipes Stearns, 1883 (Anthozoa: Octocorallia: Chrysogorgiidae), Zootaxa 4319 (1), pp. 1-26: 14-17

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Radicipes gracilis ( Verrill, 1884 )


Radicipes gracilis ( Verrill, 1884) 

Figs. 2View FIGURE 2 E –F, 9, 10

Lepidogorgia gracilis Verrill, 1884: 220  ; 1885: 512, 533, pl. 2, fig. 10, 10a.—VerSluyS, 1902: 16.— ThomSon & HenderSon, 1906: 27 (tabular key).

Strophogorgia fragilis Wright & Studer, 1889: 4  , pl. 2, fig. 2, pl. 5a. fig. 4.

Lepidogorgia fragilis  .—VerSluyS, 1902: 16-17.— ThomSon & HenderSon, 1906: 27.

Radicipes gracilis  .— Kükenthal, 1919: 548; 24: 412.— Verrill, 1922: 42, fig 10, 10a.— Deichmann, 1936: 237.— MadSen, 1944: 46 –49, text-figS. 37–41.— Bayer, 1979: 882, fig. 2c.— Bayer & Macintyre, 2001: 342 (mineralogy).— Watling & AuSter, 2005: 28 (liSted).— McFadden et al., 2006: 525, figS. 1–3.— Wareham & Edinger, 2007: 295, 298, 302, fig. 1J.— CogSWell et al., 2009: fig. 10G.— Buhl-MortenSen et al., 2010: 43 (mentioned). — Pante & France, 2010: 597.— Watling et al., 2011: 59 (liSted).— Baker, et al., 2012: 239, 240, 244.— Pante & France, 2012: figS. 2–3, Supplemental table 1 (liSted).— Cordeiro et al., 2015: 94, 95 (tabular key).— Buhl-MortenSen et al., 2015: 39 –61, figS. 2f, 3i, 4, 5.

? Lepidogorgia challengeri  . — JungerSen, 1915: 1184.

Radicipes fragilis  .— Kükenthal, 1924: 143. — Tixier-Durivault & d’Hondt, 1975: 1410. —Braga-HenriqueS et al., 2013: 4026 (liSted).— Cordeiro et al., 2015: 95 (tabular key).

Lepidogorgia verrilli  . — ThomSon, 1927: 20 –21, pl. 3, fig. 18, pl. 5, fig. 20.

Types and Type Localities. Radicipes gracilis  : USNM 9118View Materials (syntype), Alb- 2072, 41°53'N, 65°35'W (off Massachusetts), 1569 m; USNM 8877View Materials, USNM 9350View Materials, USNM 26030View Materials, USNM 30283View Materials, USNM 33570View Materials, YPM 8768View Materials and YPMAbout YPM 10045View Materials (syntypes), Alb- 2037, 38°53'N, 69°23'30"W, 3166 m (off Massachusetts); part of the syntype series (from Alb -2036) is lost.GoogleMaps 

Strophogorgia fragilis  : BM 1889.5.27.4 (holotype, one specimen), Chall- 70: 38°25’N, 35°50’W (west of Azores), 3063 m.GoogleMaps 

Material Examined. Del- 23, 39°55'55"N, 67°11'W, 1155 m (USNM 1111944, YPM 35442 and YPM 36838); Alb- 2569, 39°26'N, 68°03'30"W, 3259 (USNM 11913 and YPM 10049); Del- 29, 39°53'N, 67°23'W, 1395 (USNM 1110402); Alb -2209, 39°34'45"N, 71°31'30"W, 1975 m (USNM 8193 and YPM 10051); Alb -2570, 39°54'05"N, 67°05'30"W, 3316 m (USNM 11914); Alb -2575, 41°07'N, 65°26'30"W, 3128 m (USNM 11908); Alb -2563, 39°18'30"N, 71°23'30"W, 2601 m (USNM 11929 and YPM 10106); Del -14, 39°53'N, 67°26'24"W, depth unknown (USNM 100900); Del -47-Bear, 39°52'58"N, 67°25'58"W, 1195-1402 (USNM 1010390); Del-24, 39°52'12"N, 67°20'18.6"W, 1428–1650 m (YPM 36783); Pisces  -16, 40°10'54"N, 67°26'40.2"W, 1961 m (YPM 72083).

Description. Colonies golden, stiff, tall, up to 90 cm in height, coiled in clockwise or counterclockwise manner; aXis 2.2 mm, maXimum diameter. Young colonies brittle and iridescent. Holdfast calcareous, profusely branched, usually thinner than aXis. Coenenchyme thin, fragile and easily detachable from aXis. At least one quarter of lower part of colony devoid of polyps. Distance between polyps about 1.5 mm in proXimal portions to 10.0 mm distally. Polyps 2.5–5.0 mm long, cylindrical to slightly trumpet-shaped ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 E –F), disposed in a single longitudinal line (polypar side), spaced 4.0–10.0 mm apart in a frequency of three to five per centimeter (usually three). Eight longitudinal rows of rods in the body wall of completely developed polyps, with adaXials usually less developed, 0.18–0.7 mm long and 0.02–0.06 mm wide. Longest rods of body wall aligned with abaXial side, but no large supporting rods in abaXial side. AbaXial line from the lower portion of polyp to distal portion with four to siX juXtaposed pairs of rods in alternate lines, relatively homogeneous in size. Sclerite size decreases from abaXial to outer lateral rows. Inner lateral and adaXial rows composed of loosely placed rods, sometimes naked. Oral portion with rods similar in size to those from lower portion of polyp. Infrabasal and adaXial portions filled with flattened rods, slightly 8-shaped, 0.15–0.26 mm long and 0.04–0.05 mm wide ( Figs. 9View FIGURE 9 A, 10A). Infrabasal and abaXial rods with slightly flattened tips becoming more rounded and sparse in oral portion. AbaXial row of rods eXtending through coenenchyme between polyps, connecting them. Coenenchymal sclerites rare or completely absent, when present, similar to those of infrabasal and adaXial portions. Tentacular rods 0.07–0.18 mm long and 0.01–0.04 mm wide, becoming flatter in proXimal-distal wall ( Figs. 9View FIGURE 9 B, 10C). Pinnules filled with small scales, 0.1–0.13 mm in length and 0.01–0.04 mm in width ( Figs. 9View FIGURE 9 C, 10B).

Comparisons. Colonies of R. gracilis  differ from the Atlantic species R. challengeri  and R. kopelatos  by having larger polyps (Table 1) and by having their body wall densely filled with sclerites ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2). Although the longest polyps in R. kopelatos  reach up to 3.3 mm, most polyps in a colony are very short in comparison to those in R. gracilis  , usually half their length. As well, the aXis diameter in R. gracilis  is usually thicker. The Pacific species Radicipes stonei  has a similar polyp shape, but differs in having one or two long supporting rods in the lower abaXial side, having irregular infrabasal flattened rods, and having body wall rods with at least one flat tip.

Remarks. Radicipes gracilis  is the most frequently recorded species in the genus, with at least 12 records presented herein and several others gleaned from the literature ( Fig. 3View FIGURE 3, Supplementary file). Most studies have treated mid-Atlantic ( R. fragilis  ) and western Atlantic ( R. gracilis  ) populations as separate species. Nonetheless, no revisions including eXaminations of both types have been carried out until now. The type remains of R. fragilis  consist of just a fragment of tissue (no aXis) with several polyps. But this is enough to determine that the types are indistinguishable (compare Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 E,E’ with 2F and Fig. 9View FIGURE 9 with Fig. 10View FIGURE 10). Several misconceptions about the morphological features of R. gracilis  can be seen in the available literature. Thomson & Henderson (1906), for eXample, implied that the species has more coenenchymal sclerites than R. pleurocristatus  (see Thomson & Henderson, 1906: p. 27, comparative table of species of Lepidogorgia  ). According to Madsen (1944) and Cordeiro et al. (2015), the main differences between the two species can be seen in the measurements of the polyps, twice as long in R. gracilis  , and the longer body wall rods in R. fragilis ( Cordeiro et al., 2015)  . We understand that the ‘polyp distinction’ is due to the measurements given by Madsen (1944), which included tentacles in the total polyp length determination, whereas no other author has included the tentacles to describe this character. Actually, both species have the same polypar length range, from 2.5 to 4.0 mm, not 5.0 to 10.0 mm as stated by Madsen. Rods from the body wall were slightly longer in the R. fragilis  type (up to 0. 75 mm long, whereas usually just up to 0.5 mm in western Atlantic specimens). Even though we only eXamined one mid-Atlantic colony, we consider it to be the same species, considering the sclerite size to be more related to age of the colony and seXual maturation.

It remains to be seen if the sequenced mid-Atlantic specimen ‘ VERAbout VER 2041’ ( Pante et al., 2012) fits our R. gracilis  definition, or R. challengeri  , or is a different species. Considering Pante’s phylogenies, in the first case, one could consider treating R. gracilis  as a cryptic species compleX or one could suggest the reestablishment of R. fragilis  as a valid name. Our eXaminations however do not allow us to keep both as valid.

Distribution. In western Atlantic from North Carolina to Canada; Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Seamounts and Portugal (Azores), from 500–3259 m.


Peabody Museum of Natural History


Museo Civico di Storia Naturale














Radicipes gracilis ( Verrill, 1884 )

Perez, Carlos D. 2017


Lepidogorgia verrilli

ThomSon 1927: 20


Radicipes fragilis

Cordeiro 2015: 95
Tixier-Durivault 1975: 1410
Kukenthal 1924: 143


Cordeiro 2015: 94Buhl-MortenSen 2015: 39
Baker 2012: 239
Watling 2011: 59
Buhl-MortenSen 2010: 43
Pante 2010: 597
Wareham 2007: 295
McFadden 2006: 525
Watling 2005: 28
Bayer 2001: 342
Bayer 1979: 882
MadSen 1944: 46
Deichmann 1936: 237
Verrill 1922: 42
Kukenthal 1919: 548


Lepidogorgia challengeri

JungerSen 1915: 1184


Lepidogorgia gracilis

ThomSon 1906: 27Verrill 1884: 220


Lepidogorgia fragilis

ThomSon 1906: 27


Strophogorgia fragilis

Wright 1889: 4