We reinvestigated Pycnothrix monocystoides Schubotz, 1908 from the intestine of the African Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) collected from Saudi Arabia, using protargol impregnation and electron microscopy. Pycnothrix is a unique, up to 5 mm long intestinal ciliate with about two million cilia and many cytostomes (i.e. actual cytostome plus cytopharynx; polycytopharyngy) in the oral furrow (∼vestibulum) that extends on both sides of the cell. Both walls of the furrow are covered by adoral membranelle-like ciliary polymerizations. To the right of the furrow and the cytostomes there are small ciliary fields, very likely homologous to the “dorsal brush” found in free-living litostomateans. The molecular investigations show Pycnothrix as sister to Balantidium and endemic Australian intestinal ciliates, e.g. the genus Bandia. We propose that the common ancestor had both an oral furrow and a special ciliary field both similar to that found in Balantidium. The unique morphology (polycytopharyngy) and the rather distinct molecular separation suggest maintenance of the family status given by Poche (1913).

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