Osteological development of the vertebral column and caudal complex in blackhead seabream was described under extensive larval rearing conditions from 1DPH to 36DPH. The development of vertebral column originated from the occurrence of neural arch and hypural on 5DPH (SL2.4-3.4mmm, NL1.8-2.4mm), then skeletal ossification and Segmental bone formation occurred on 11DPH (SL3.6-4.0mm, NL2.6-2.8mm) and finished on 21DPH (SL9.6-11.6mm, NL7.4-8.6mm); Neural arch developed earlier than haemal arch, while haemal spine earlier than neural spine, consistent with the ossification; The development and ossification of neural arch and neural spine occurred in the backward order, while haemal arch and haemal spine from central tail to bothsides, Whatʼs more, all ossification occurred from proximal to outward; Along with the development of vertebral column, urostyle curved on 15-17DPH(SL4.0-5.0mm, NL2.9-3.4mm), then finished on 21DPH(SL4.6-5.2mm, NL3.4-3.8mm). During this progress, individuals present strong vitality of life and active action. This study explored the morphological characteristics of vertebral column and caudal skeletal ontogeny in larval A. schlegelii, which provides fundamental information for future artificial breeding and taxonomy of A. schlegelii and other relative species.
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