Annelids: Ringed Worms

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Topics: Annelid
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Annelid

The annelids (also called "ringed worms"), formally called Annelida (from Latin anellus "little ring"[2]), are a large phylum of segmented worms, with over 22,000 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.They are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic, coelomate organisms.They have parapodia for locomotion. 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.

The basic annelid form consists of multiple segments, each of which has the same sets of organs and, in most polychaetes, a pair of parapodia that many species use for locomotion. Septa separate the segments of many species, but are poorly-defined or absent in some, and Echiura and Sipuncula show no obvious signs of segmentation. In species with well-developed septa, the blood circulates entirely within blood vessels, and the vessels in segments near the front ends of these species are often built up with muscles to act as hearts. The septa of these species also enable them to change the shapes of individual segments, which facilitates movement by peristalsis ("ripples" that pass along the body) or by undulations that improve the effectiveness of the parapodia. In species with incomplete septa or none, the blood circulates through the main body cavity without

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