Echinoderms are one of the most important groups of metazoans from the point of view of evolution, ecology and abundance. Nevertheless, their nervous system has been little studied. Particularly unexplored have been the components of the nervous system that lie outside the ectoneural and hyponeural divisions of the main nerve ring and radial nerve cords. We have gathered information on the nervous components of the digestive tract of echinoderms and demonstrate an unexpected level of complexity in terms of neurons, nerve plexi, their location and neurochemistry. The nervous elements within the digestive system consist of a distinct component of the echinoderm nervous system, termed the enteric nervous system. However, the association between the enteric nervous system and the ectoneural and hyponeural components of the nervous system is not well established. Our findings also emphasize the importance of the large lacunae in the neurobiology of echinoderms, a feature that should be addressed in future studies.

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