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Common Name: Parchment Worm

Scientific Name: Chaetopterus variopedatus

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Annelida

Class: Polychaeta

Order: Canalipalpata

Family: Chaetopteridae

Genus: Chaetopterus

Species: C. variopedatus


Chaetopterus variopedatus is a tube worm known as parchment worms, and it is a stout worm, up to 25 inches long. It is yellowish or greenish white in color with mature females becoming pinkish. The body is divided into 3 distinct regions, the short anterior end with an inconspicuous head, a mid-region with highly specialized feeding structures, and a longer, regularly segmented hind end with repeating appendages.


 The worms live permanently in tough, flexible tubes of a whitish parchment-like material. The open end is narrow and protrudes slightly from the ground. parchment worms are found from intertidal to shelf depths in soft sediments such as sand and mud. They attach their tubes to any hard surface. Their vacant tubes can be occupied by other animals, such as crabs or other worms. parchment worms are filter-feeding worms. They eat suspended organic material. Seawater is pumped through their tube. The worm catches food in a mucus bag. The mucous bag filters the water but keeps the particles. When the bag has a good amount of food it is transported to its mouth and eaten.


Author: Alex G

Published: 03/2008


Sources: Photo Credit:

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