In most marine gastropods, the duration of the larval phase is a key feature, strongly influencing species distribution and persistence. Antarctic lineages, in agreement with Thorson's rule, generally show a short pelagic developmental phase (or lack it completely), with very few exceptions. Among them is the ascidian-feeding gastropod family Velutinidae, a quite understudied group. Based on a multilocus (COI, 16S, 28S and ITS2) dataset for 182 specimens collected in Antarctica and other regions worldwide, we investigated the actual Antarctic velutinid diversity, inferred their larval development, tested species genetic connectivity and produced a first phylogenetic framework of the family. We identified 15 Antarctic Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTUs), some of which represented undescribed species, which show two different types of larval shell, indicating different duration of the Pelagic Larval Phase (PLD). Antarctic velutinids stand as an independent lineage, sister to the rest of the family, with extensive hidden diversity likely produced by rapid radiation. Our phylogenetic framework indicates that this Antarctic flock underwent repeated events of pelagic phase shortening, in agreement with Thorson's rule, yielding species with restricted geographic ranges.
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