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Externally segmented, wormlike, with bristles (setae). In the case of earthworms and leeches, the setae may be greatly reduced in size. The phylum includes earthworms and their relatives, leeches, and a large number of mostly marine worms known as polychaetes. Various species of polychaete are known as lugworms, clam worms, bristleworms, fire worms, and sea mice. Annelids can be distinguished by their segmented bodies. Polychaetes (meaning "many bristles") have, predictably, many bristles on the body, while earthworms and leeches have fewer bristles. There are about 9000 species of annelid known today.


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The Phylum Annelida is a member of the Superphylum Eutrochozoa. Here is the complete "parentage" of Annelida:

The Phylum Annelida is further organized into finer groupings including:


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The annelids (also called "ringed worms"), formally called Annelida (from French annel?s "ringed ones", ultimately from Latin anellus "little ring"), are a large phylum of segmented worms, with over 17,000 modern species including ragworms, earthworms and leeches. They are found in marine environments from tidal zones to hydrothermal vents, in freshwater, and in moist terrestrial environments. Although most textbooks still use the traditional division into polychaetes (almost all marine), oligochaetes (which include earthworms) and leech-like species, research since 1997 has radically changed this scheme, viewing leeches as a sub-group of oligochaetes and oligochaetes as a sub-group of polychaetes. In addition, the Pogonophora, Echiura and Sipuncula, previously regarded as separate phyla, are now regarded as sub-groups of polychaetes. Annelids are considered members of the Lophotrochozoa, a "super-phylum" of protostomes that also includes molluscs, brachiopods, flatworms and nemerteans. [more]


Clitellata is a class of Annelid worms, characterized by having a clitellum - the 'collar' that forms a reproductive cocoon during part of their life cycle. The clitellates comprise around 8,000 species. Unlike the class of Polychaeta, they do not have parapodia and their heads are less developed. [more]


Leeches are segmented worms that belong to the phylum Annelida and comprise the subclass Hirudinea. Like other oligochaetes such as earthworms, leeches share a clitellum and are hermaphrodites. Nevertheless, they differ from other oligochaetes in significant ways. For example, leeches do not have bristles and the external segmentation of their bodies does not correspond with the internal segmentation of their organs. Their bodies are much more solid as the spaces in their coelom are dense with connective tissues. They also have two suckers, one at each end. [more]


Oligochaeta (; singular Oligochaete) is a subclass of animals in the biological phylum Annelida, which is made up of many types of aquatic and terrestrial worms, and this includes all of the various earthworms. Specifically, it contains the terrestrial megadrile earthworms (some of which are semi- or fully aquatic), and freshwater or semi-terrestrial microdrile forms including the tubificids, pot worms and ice worms (Enchytraeidae), blackworms (Lumbriculidae) and several interstitial marine worms. [more]


There are two taxa with the name Pogonophora: [more]


The Polychaeta or polychaetes are a class of annelid worms, generally marine. Each body segment has a pair of fleshy protrusions called parapodia that bear many bristles, called chaetae, which are made of chitin. Indeed, polychaetes are sometimes referred to as bristle worms. More than 10,000 species are described in this class. Common representatives include the lugworm (Arenicola marina) and the sandworm or clam worm Nereis. [more]



At least 5 species and subspecies belong to the Class Polychaetia.

More info about the Class Polychaetia may be found here.


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Last Revised: October 03, 2013
2013/10/03 15:35:43