The Ectoprocta were known as Bryozoa (moss animals) for a long time and also included another group of animals the Entoprocta. Of the 4000 species of ectoprocts , few are more than 0.5 mm long, all are aquatic, found both in marine and freshwater and most, with very few exceptions are colonial.
Each member of a colony lives in a chamber secreted by its epidermis, called a zoecium, and consists of a feeding polypide and a case-forming cystid. The polypide includes the lophophore, digestive tract, muscles and nerve centres; the cystid is the body wall of the animal together with its secreted exoskeleton . The exoskeleton varies according to the species and may be gelatinous, chitinous, stiffened with calcium or impregnated with sand.
Some colonies form encrustations on seaweed, shells and rocks; others form shrubby growths or erect colonies that look like seaweed. Some ectoprocts could be mistaken for hydroids but can be distinguished under a microscope by the fact that their tentacles are ciliated.
The Phylum Ectoprocta is a member of the Kingdom Animalia. Here is the complete "parentage" of Ectoprocta:
The Phylum Ectoprocta is further organized into finer groupings including:
- Family (24): Ascodictyidae · Batoporidae · Buffonellodidae · Calpensiidae · Candidae · Catenicellidae · Cellarinellidae · Cheiloporinidae · Eminooeciidae · Entalophoridae · Hincksinidae · Hippoponellidae · Lepraliellidae · Lunulariidae · Mucronellidae · Myriozoidae · Otionellidae · Phidoloporidae · Phorioppniidae · Plagioeciidae · Romancheinidae · Steganoporellidae · Urceoliporidae · Vinellidae
- Species: ZipcodeZoo has pages for 804 species and subspecies in the Phylum Ectoprocta.
The Catenicellidae are a group of ascophoran bryozoans, making up the namesake family of the superfamily hese animals are characterized by branching colonies, which are flexible due to soft joints between nodes consisting of single or a few zooids. The colony is attached by soft rootlets (rhizoids) to the substrate, which can be rock, sea grasses, or even other bryozoans. These characters give colonies a bushy appearance, and they are therefore often confused with sea weed. [more]
The Phidoloporidae is a family within the bryozoan order Cheilostomata. The colonies of many genera grow in an upright, branching manner, which gave rise to one colloquial name for this group as 'lace corals'. Zooids generally open on one side of the branches. [more]
More info about the Family Vinellidae may be found here.
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