Phylum Platyhelminthes: Flatworms

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Unsegmented worms with thin flat bodies.  Majority of species are parasitic (flukes and tapeworms).  Most  free-living flatworms are small and inconspicuous, but a few local species are larger, often with striking markings.   Flatworms glide about using mucus & cilia as well as muscular undulations of their bodies.  Most are predators of small invertebrates; their gut has but a single opening.   Despite the general simplicity of their body structure, flatworms possess complex hermaphroditic reproductive systems.  ~20,000 species.



Eurylepta californica
Eurylepta californica  Hyman, 1959
Phylum Platyhelminthes, Class Rhabditophora, Order Polycladida, Family Euryleptidae

Oval worm with flared tentacles bearing black & red marks at their base; length to 30 mm.  Body grayish white with narrow mid-doral white line and scattered crisscrossing pattern of dark lines with scattered white spots.

Uncommon and cryptic, under cobbles and amongst low-lying red algae.  Little is known about this species; congeners reported to feed on ascidians. 

Geogr. Range: central California
Synonyms:
Similar species: Pseudoceros montereyensis has black spots rather than crisscrossing lines and a black line around its lateral margin.

Image: 

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Pseudoceros montereyensis
Pseudoceros montereyensis  Hyman, 1953
Phylum Platyhelminthes, Class Rhabditophora, Order Polycladida, Family Pseudocerotidae

Large oval worm with ruffled margin; 40 mm long. White with mid-dorsal black line tinged with red; continuous black line around margin except between anterior tentacles; dorsum speckled with elongate black marks and fewer white spots & red flecks.

Uncommon and cryptic, under cobbles and amongst low-lying algae.  Little is known of its biology, although congeners are reported to prey on compound tunicates.

Geogr. Range: central California; also reported from Oregon as well as southern Calif.
Synonyms:
Similar species: Eurylepta californica has criscossing black lines instead of spots & lacks black line around lateral edge of body.

Image: 

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All images copyright James Watanabe unless otherwise indicated
Contact:  watanabe_at_stanford_dot_edu                                                                                                                                      Last  update: 8 August 2017













Phylum Nemertea: Ribbon Worms

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Unsegmented worms with elongate, thin, elastic bodies.  These predatory worms possess a tubular proboscis nearly as long as their body  that can be everted very quickly to ensnare prey.  Nemerteans are common, but cryptic and often small in size.  They inhabit algal holdfasts and other microhabitats with complex 3-dimensional structure where they can hide.   1,359 living species.



Tubulanus sexlineatus
Tubulanus sexlineatus  (Griffin, 1898)
Phylum Nemertea, Class Palaeonemertea, Family Tubulanidae

Long thin body to 20 cm; dorsal surface dark brown with 5 narrow longitudinal white stripes broken by broad white bands encircling the body.

Uncommon; infrequently encountered stretched out across rock surfaces, but usually nestled in a transparent membranous tubes secreted in cryptic microhabitats such as kelp holdfasts & spatially complex masses of colonial invertebrates.

Geogr. Range: Sitka Alaska to southern California
Synonyms:
Similar species: 

Image:  bat star Patiria miniata

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Page created by J.M. Watanabe
All images copyright James Watanabe unless otherwise indicated
Contact:  watanabe_at_stanford_dot_edu                                                                                                                                      Last  update: 8 August 2017