Parchment worm (Chaetopterus variopedatus)
|Researched by||Penny Avant||Refereed by||Admin|
|Other common names||-||Synonyms||-|
The parchment worm Chaetopterus variopedatus is distinctive, large and stout but fragile. It grows up to 25 cm in length and between 1 and 2.5 cm in width. It is yellowish or greenish white in colour with mature females becoming pinkish. The body is divided into three 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 substratum.
Recorded distribution in Britain and IrelandWidely distributed around British coasts, but not recorded on the east coast of England south of the Tees estuary.
HabitatThe tough permanent tubes are seen in sand and stone or shell gravel from low water to considerable depths, and in deeper water on rock, in fissures in rock and under boulders.
- An irregularly segmented worm, up to 25 cm long and 1 to 2.5 cm wide, living permanently in a parchment-like tube.
- Body in three distinct regions, a short anterior region, mid region with differing appendages modified for feeding, longer posterior region distinctly segmented.
- Parts of the body phosphorescent.
- The tubes protrude slightly from the sand at both ends and are non-ringed, tough and flexible.
Other species of polychaete may occasionally occupy vacant tubes.
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Last Updated: 21/06/2002