Chimaeras, or ratfishes, are the only extant group of holocephalan fishes and are the sole host group of gyrocotylidean cestodes, which represent a sister group of the true tapeworms (Eucestoda). These unique, non-segmented cestodes have been known since the 1850s and multiple species and genera have been erected despite a general agreement that the delineation of species on the basis of morphology is effectively impossible. Thus, in the absence of molecular studies, the validity of gyrocotylid taxa and their specific host associations has remained highly speculative. Here we report the presence of Gyrocotyle spp. from rarely-caught deep-sea chimaeras collected in the North-East Atlantic, and describe two new species: G. haffii n. sp. from the bent-nose chimaera, Harriota raleighana Goode & Bean, and G. discoveryi n. sp. from the large-eyed rabbit fish, Hydrolagus mirabilis (Collett). Nuclear ribosomal sequence data were generated for individual parasites taken from different host species collected on different dates and from different localities and were combined with previously published sequences. Phylogenetic analyses supported the recognition of independent lineages and clusters, indicative of species, but were indecisive in recovering the root of the tree in analyses that included non-gyrocotylid outgroup taxa. The molecular data reveal variation not reflected in morphology and point to a complex picture of genetic divergence shaped by both isolation and migration in the deep-sea environment.
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