All of the previously described extant members of the genus Dendraster are reviewed in light of new information on their taxonomy, phylogeny, ontogeny, and distribution. Allometric and multivariate analyses, in conjunction with qualitative comparisons of test morphology and external
appendages, indicate that there are three valid living taxa: D. excentricus (Eschscholtz, 1831), D. vizcainoensis Grant and Hertlein, 1938, and D. terminalis (Grant and Hertlein, 1938). A neotype is designated for D. excentricus, and locations of type material
given for the other species. None of the Dendraster species described by Clark (1948) are valid: D. rugosus and D. mexicanus are junior synonyms of D. vizcainoensis, and D. laevis is actually the adult form of D. terminalis. Until now, the latter species
was known only from juvenile material, but it is a Dendraster in which the gonopores appear earlier than in any other large scutelline. Plate patterns, food grooves, spination, and podial spicules are figured and described for each species. A dichotomous key is also provided. Known
distributions are discussed in light of new data, particularly those concerning the occurrence of fossil Dendraster in the Gulf of California, where living species are unknown. Quaternary expansion of the genus is attributable almost entirely to the northward movement of a single species,
D. excentricus. Preliminary phylogenetic analysis of the living taxa suggests that D. excentricus and D. vizcainoensis are sister taxa, and that D. terminalis is the sister to this clade. D. terminalis exhibits several features that can be interpreted as
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