Are any invertebrate nephridia (proto/meta) homologous with vertebrate kidneys in the sense that embryologically they also begin together with the genital system? When did the embryologic association between reproduction and osmoregulartion/metabolite elimination begin in terms of evolution?

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    $\begingroup$ I dont think invertebrates have urogenital system. $\endgroup$
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 9:33
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    $\begingroup$ So which one, excretory or reproductive, is homologous to the vertebrate urogenital system... I understand that invertebrate is a polyphyletic category of exclusion, but I'm talking about the closest related animal phyla to vertebrate... I guess I should'look deeper into lancets and hagfish... $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 10:35

1 Answer 1


The urogenital system as a cohesive functional unit probably evolved very early in vertebrate history. Hagfishes and lampreys have separate systems for reproduction and excretion. More derived groups of fishes use kidney tubules and ducts for sperm delivery outside the body (Helfman et al. 2009).

The vertebrate nephron may be homologous to the invertebrate nephridia (Ruppert 1994). The genetics underlying the development of vertebrate female reproductive organs shows many homologies with invertebrate reproductive organs (Kobayashi and Behringer 2003)

I would hypothesize that the both the reproductive and extrectory systems of vertebrates show corresponding homologies to invertebrate organ systems (at least genetic and developmental homologies) but evolution of the urogenital organ system did not evolve until the early vertebrates.

Literature Cited

Helfman, G.S. et al. 2009. The Diversity of Fishes. Biology, Evolution and Ecology. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.

Kobayashi, A. ad R.R. Behringer. 2003. Developmental genetics of the female reproductive tract in mammals. Nature Reviews Genetics 4: 969-980.

Ruppert, E.E. 1994. Evolutionary origin of the vertebrate nephron. American Zoologist 34: 542-553.


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