Nemerteans: Ribbon worms


Nemerteans are primarily marine benthic worms, occurring from the littoral zone to depths of 9000 m. They range in size from several millimeters to 30 m!

The body of nemerteans is bilaterally symmetrical, elongated to thread-like, and unsegmented. Most species have a long muscular proboscis which facilitates a predatory feeding style. The proboscis is wrapped around the prey which consists primarily of crustaceans and bristle worms and can be many times larger than the nemertean itself. Soem species have a dart on the end of the proboscis to help catch their prey.

Identification of the majority of species requires knowing the color of the living specimens, which may have a characteristic pattern of spots or bands. The color is often lighter on the ventral side than on the dorsal side. Unfortunately, the color changes or disappears during fixation.

Worldwide, about 1200 species are known wordwide, of which ~80 inhabit the Arctic.

Page Author: Bodil Bluhm
Created: Sept 20, 2010

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