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Polychaeta

(Class)

Overview

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The bristle worms, a class of mainly marine annelid worms, the ragworms, the lugworms etc. characterised by possession of parapodia bearing numerous chaetae which are used for crawling, and a pronounced head bearing tentacles, palps and often eyes.

The largest and most primitive group of annelids, and the majority are marine. They are often strikingly beautiful and very colorful and, unlike the other two groups of annelids, they show enormous variation in form and lifestyle. Apart from the head and terminal segments, all the segments are identical, each with a pair of flattened, fleshy lobelike paddles called parapodia, which are used for swimming, burrowing and creating a feeding current. The bristles, or chaetae, on the parapodia are immensely variable betwen species. In the sea mice, for example, they form a protective mat over the back of the worm and give the animal a furry appearance. The bristles of fireworms, on the other hand, are long and poisonous for defense, and are shed readily if a worm is attacked.

Most of the tube-dwelling, or tubicolous polychaetes, are members of the Subclass Sedentaria, while most of the free-living species are in the Subclass Errantia. The tubicolous species can build tubes of unadorned mud, sand, or parchment (often decorated with sand, shell, algae, hydroids), or of hardened calcium carbonate. Most tubicolous polychaetes are either deposit feeders or filter feeders. Tubicolous polychaetes are often found in dense mats.

Photos

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Taxonomy

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The Class Polychaeta is a member of the Phylum Annelida. Here is the complete "parentage" of Polychaeta:

The Class Polychaeta is further organized into finer groupings including:

Families

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Aberrantidae

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Acoetidae

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Acrocirridae

Acrocirridae is a family of polychaete worms. Acrocirrids are detritivores (deposit feeders), catching falling particles with numerous long prostomial tentacles. There are eight known genera, and at least 21 described species and subspecies within the Acrocirridae family. The acrocirrids are primarily benthic (seabed-dwelling) animals, but at least two genera (Swima and Teuthidodrilus) appear to have evolved or adapted to a pelagic (free-swimming) habitat. [more]

Aeolosomatidae

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Alciopidae

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Alvinellidae

The Alvinellidae are a family of small, deep-sea polychaete worms endemic to hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean. Belonging to the order Terebellida, the family contains two genera, Alvinella and Paralvinella; the former genus contains two valid species and the latter eight. Members of the family are termed alvinellids. [more]

Ampharetidae

Ampharetidae are a family of terebellid "bristle worm" (class Polychaeta). As such, they belong to the order Canalipalpata, one of the three main clades of polychaetes. They appear to be most closely related to the peculiar alvinellids (Alvinellidae) which inhabit the deep sea, and somewhat less closely to the well-known trumpet worms (Pectinariidae). These three appear to form one of the main clades of terebellids. [more]

Amphinomidae

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Antonbruuniidae

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Aphroditidae

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Aphroditinae

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Apistobranchidae

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Archinomidae

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Arenicolidae

Arenicolidae is a family of marine polychaete worms. They are commonly known as lugworms and the little coils of sand they produce are commonly seen on the beach. Arenicolids are found worldwide, mostly living in burrows in sandy substrates. Most are deposit feeders but some graze on algae. [more]

Calamyzidae

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Caobangidae

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Capitellidae

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Chaetopteridae

The Chaetopteridae are a family of marine filter feeding polychaete worms that live in vertical or U-shaped tubes in tunnels buried in the sedimentary or hard substrate of marine environments. The worms are highly adapted to the hard tube they secrete. Inside the tube the animal is segmented and regionally specialized, with highly modified appendages on different segments for cutting the tunnel, feeding, or creating suction for the flow of water through the tube home. The modified segments for feeding are on the 12th segment from the head for members of this family. [more]

Chrysopetalidae

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Cirratulidae

Cirratulidae is a family of marine polychaete worms. Members of the family are found worldwide, mostly living in mud or rock crevices. Most are deposit feeders, but some graze on algae or are suspension feeders. [more]

Cossuridae

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Ctenodrilidae

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Diurodrilidae

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Dorvilleidae

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Eulepethidae

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Eunicidae

Eunicidae is a family of polychaetes. Many eunicids reach a considerable size. Their jaws are known from Ordovician sediments. They live throughout the seas; a few species are parasitic. [more]

Euniphysidae

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Euphrosinidae

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Fauveliopsidae

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Flabelligeridae

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Flotidae

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Glyceridae

Glyceridae is a family of polychaete worms. They are commonly referred to as beak-thrower worms or bloodworms. They are bright red, segmented, aquatic worms. The proboscis worm Glycera is sometimes called bloodworm. The Glyceridae are ferocious epi- and infaunal polychaetes that prey upon small invertebrates. They are errant burrowers that build galleries of interconnected tubes to aid in catching their prey. [more]

Goniadidae

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Hartmaniellidae

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Hesionidae

Hesionidae are a family of phyllodocid "bristle worms" (class Polychaeta). They are (like almost all polychaetes) marine organisms. Most are found on the continental shelf; Hesiocaeca methanicola[] is found on methane ice, where it feeds on bacterial biofilms. [more]

Histriobdellidae

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Ichthyotomidae

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Iospilidae

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Lacydoniidae

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Longosomatidae

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Lopadorhynchidae

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Lopadorrhynchidae

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Lumbrineridae

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Magelonidae

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Maldanidae

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Microphthalmidae

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Myzostomidae

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Nautiliniellidae

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Nephtyidae

Nephtyidae is a taxonomic family of worms. They are commonly referred to as catworms. [more]

Nereidae

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Nereididae

Nereididae (formerly spelled Nereidae) are a family of polychaete worms. It contains about 500 ? mostly marine ? species grouped into 42 genera. They may be commonly called ragworms or clam worms. [more]

Nerillidae

Nerillida is a family of invertebrates containing the following genera: [more]

Oenonidae

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Onuphidae

Onuphidae is a family of polychaete worms. [more]

Opheliidae

Ophelliidae is a family of small, annelid worms. It contains the following genera: [more]

Orbiniidae

Orbiniidae is a family of polychaete worms. Orbiniids are mostly unselective deposit feeders on marine detritus. They can be found from the neritic zone to abyssal depths. [more]

Oweniidae

Oweniidae is a family of marine polychaete worms in the suborder Sabellida. The worms live in tubes made of sand and are selective filter feeders, detrivores and grazers. [more]

Paralacydoniidae

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Paraonidae

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Parergodrilidae

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Pectinariidae

Pectinariidae, or the trumpet worms or ice cream cone worms, are a family of marine polychaete worms that build sand tubes roughly resembling ice cream cones up to two inches long. [more]

Pholoidae

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Phyllodocidae

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Pilargidae

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Pisionidae

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Poecilochaetidae

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Poeobiidae

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Polygordiidae

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Polynoidae

A family of scaled Polychaete worms known as the "scale worms". Short and flat, specimens reach as much as 20 cm in length and 10 cm width. An almost-constant number of small segments is the norm. They are covered by scales, technically termed elytra. They are active hunters, but generally dwell in protected environments such as under stones. [more]

Pontodoridae

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Potamodrilidae

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Protodrilidae

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Protodriloididae

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Psammodrilidae

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Questidae

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Sabellariidae

Sabellariidae is a family of marine polychaete worms in the suborder Sabellida. The worms live in tubes made of sand and are filter feeders and detrivores. [more]

Sabellidae

Sabellidae (feather duster worms) are sedentary marine polychaete tube worms where the head is mostly concealed by feathery branchiae. They build tubes out of parchment, sand, and bits of shell. They tend to be common in the intertidal zones around the world. [more]

Saccocirridae

The Saccocirridae are small interstitial polychaetes common in coarse sand, reflective, surf beaches, usually within the zone of retention. The Saccociridae are members of the clade , which is in turn part of the clade Canalipalpata. Saccocirridae have a world wide distribution and it is likely that many more species remain to be described. These polychates are usually between 2 and 10 mm in length and 500 ?m wide. They have reduced parapodia and are considered a true interstitial species, incapable of burrowing through finer sediments. [more]

Scalibregmatidae

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Scalibregmidae

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Serpulidae

Serpulidae is a family of sessile, tube-building annelid worms in the class Polychaeta. The members of this family differ from the sabellid tube worms in that they have a specialized operculum that blocks the entrance of their tubes when they withdraw into the tubes. In addition, serpulids secrete tubes of calcium carbonate. There are about 300 known species in the Serpulidae family, all but one of which live in saline waters. The group is known from the Middle Triassic (Vinn and Mutvei 2009). [more]

Siboglinidae

Siboglinidae, also known as the beard worms, is a family of polychaete annelid worms whose members made up the former phyla Pogonophora (the giant tube worms) and Vestimentifera. They are composed of about 100 species of vermiform creatures and live in thin tubes buried in sediments at ocean depths from 100 to 10,000 m. They can also be found in association with hydrothermal vents, methane seeps, with sunken plant material or whale carcasses. [more]

Sigalionidae

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Sphaerodoridae

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Spintheridae

Spintheridae is a family of invertebrates with a single genus Spinther containing the following species: [more]

Spionidae

Spionidae is a family within the Polychaeta. Spionids are selective deposit feeders that use their two grooved palps to locate prey but some spionids are capable of interface feeding i.e. switching between deposit and suspension feeding. Spionids produce tubes by cementing sand grains and detritus material with mucus produced by their glandular pouches. The Spionidae is one of most studied polychaete families given their biological and commercial importance. Members of this family have been used in regeneration studies and some are capable of boring into calcareous substrate which has destructive implications for commercially important shellfish. [more]

Spirorbidae

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Sternaspidae

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Syllidae

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Terebellidae

Terebellidae is a family of polychaete worms. They are surface deposit feeders, catching falling particles with numerous elongate prostomial tentacles splayed out on the sea floor. These tentacles, which are the most or only normally visible portion of the animal and are reminiscent of spaghetti, inspired the common name spaghetti worms. The remainder of the animal is in a semi-permanent burrow or permanent tube in soft substrates. [more]

Tomopteridae

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Trichobranchidae

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Trochochaetidae

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Typhloscolecidae

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Uncispionidae

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Yndolaciidae

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More info about the Family Yndolaciidae may be found here.

Sources

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Last Revised: August 25, 2014
2014/08/25 13:11:57