Gnathostomulida, jaw worms

GNATHOSTOMULIDA HAVE/ARE

Worm-like
Bilaterally symmetrical
Paired jaws and a single base plate
Ciliated epidermis
Blind-ending gut
Hermaphrodite
Marine

GNATHOSTOMULIDA DON'T HAVE

A body cavity
Criculatory or gasous exchange systems

Greek: gnathos = jaw, stoma = mouth

Gnathostomulida

This is a relatively new phylum; first observed in 1928, with the first published description in 1956. About 100 species have been described so far, but more await description.

The worms are tiny, usually less than 1 mm, and are found in sand which is rich in organic detritus. They live in the spaces between the sand grains where they graze on fungi and bacteria. They move through their environment by beating their cilia. The most striking feature of these worms is that they have jaws and a muscular pharynx, see Gnathostomulida jenneri above which is found in water up to several hundred metres deep.