Constraints in the ligament ontogeny and evolution of pteriomorphian bivalvia

N. Malchus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


A study of ligaments of larval, postlarval and adult shells of fossil and recent pteriomorphian bivalves leads to the following observations and hypotheses: (1) Ligament growth passively follows the general growth pattern of the mantle margin. No independent genetic information fixes the anterior, ventral, or posterior growth direction of the ligament. Further growth constraints relate to physical availability of space on the ligament area and to heterochronic processes. (2) The disjunct ligament and the repetition of fibrous or lamellar sublayers are phenotypic aspects of the same derived ligament Bauplan 1. All Pteriomorphia possess the ability to produce repetitive ligaments. This ability and space reductions of the ligament area in independent phylogenetic lineages are responsible for the iterative evolution of ligament grades. (3) Spondylidae and Plicatulidae are duplivincular, and the Ostreoidea are plesiomorphically multivincular. (4) Larval anterior-helical growth of the soft tissue produces opisthogyrate shells and possibly caused the evolution of the alivincular-multivincular grade. Duplivincular-alivincular and multivincular-alivincular grades can be distinguished if larval shell characters are known. (5) The taxonomic distribution of ligament grades as amended in this paper is largely consistent with modern phylogeny hypotheses based on genetic or morphologic or combined character sets. However, the resolution of early phylogenetic nodes requires more data on larval shells of Lower Palaeozoic taxa. © The Palaeontological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1539-1574
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Bivalvia
  • Evolution
  • Growth constraints
  • Ligament ontogeny
  • Pteriomorphia

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