As an echinoderm, members of the Holothuroidea are deuterostomes. The larvae, which are planktotrophic or lecithotrophic, have 3-part paired coeloms. Embryonic coelomic structures have specific fates as the bilaterally symmetrical larvae metamorphose into radially symmetric adults.
The larvae develop in sea water. After three days the larval stage is called an auricularia and is similar to the bipinnaria larvae of asteroids. The auricularia has a ciliated locomotor band, then further develops into a larval stage called a doliolaria, where the ciliated band is broken up into three to five ciliated "girdles". Many species of holothurians have another non-feeding, barrel shaped larval stage called a vitellaria. Likely a specialized condition, it develops gradually, retaining many of the larval features. As it is metamorphosing it is sometimes called a pentactula larva.
After larval metamorphosis, the young sea cucumbers ultimately settle on the substrate and become adults.
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
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