Callichthyids take a basal position in the loricarioid evolutionary lineage leading up to an algae scraping feeding mechanism in the loricariid family. Therefore, the study of the morphology and development of a callichthyid representative would contribute to a better knowledge on the differences in cranial morphology and their impact on feeding ecology within this superfamily. Therefore, development in the chondrocranium of Corydoras aeneus was studied based on 22 cleared and stained specimens and 6 series of serial sections. The latter sections were also digitized and used for 3D reconstructions. Development overall follows the typical siluriform trends in chondrocranial development. Even the low complexity of the chondrocranium at hatching fits the trend observed in other siluriforms, although other studies showed loricarioid hatchlings to generally show more complex chondrocrania. In contrast to other catfish, in C. aeneus, the notochord was never found to protrude into the hypophyseal fenestra. In addition, also differing from other siluriforms, a commissura lateralis is present, a state also reported for Ancistrus cf. triradiatus (Geerinckx et al.,  J Morphol 266:331-355). The splanchnocranium again has the typical siluriform shape during its ontogeny, with the presence of a compound hyosymplectic-pterygoquadrate plate, although not fused to the neurocranium or interhyal at any time during ontogeny, a state described earlier for Callichthys callichthys (Hoedeman, [1960a] Bull Aquat Biol 1:73-84; Howes and Teugels,  J Zool Lond 219:441-456). The most striking difference found in comparison to other catfishes, however, involves thebranchial basket, which arises as a single element with a further differentiation from the middle arches on in both a rostral and caudal direction. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.