This one goes out to Bill who supported me during my BPR3 campaign for science swag. This one isn't necessarily about Platynereis dumerilii (left, Photo Credit: Torkild Bakken), but about polychaetes in general - a favorite group of mine as well. I hope you like it Bill and keep reading!
Oh, why are they one of my favorite you ask? Well the answer is simple you see. There diversity of form and function is impressive and the prevalence in all marine habitats is pervasive. With its trochophoric sister group Mollusca, where else can you have species that harbour chemoautotrophic bacteria near toxic deep-sea vents coexisting with other species of the same phylum with menacing jaws ripping other soft-bodied organisms to shreds? Ok maybe there are other invertebrate phyla, but the beauty of the 'worms' (in the monophyletic sense of the word, I propose only annelids are worthy to bear the common moniker 'worm') is immense. Have you seen a Chrysoptelidae?
How about a SIBOGLINIDAE!?!?!
Dear Poseidon! The diversity is...overwhelming. Please go out and enjoy some polychaetes today! Click #13 on the Spineless Songs sidebar.
My worms have gone where the cold waters flow
Into the burrows of the muddy seafloor
In between the mussels, parapodia
Armed with setae they march on and on
Once as a trochophore, my ciliated band
Twirled in the moonlight, among the plankton
Now several segments grown, I’ve done naught but roam
Fluidly I move between shell, rock and goo
I’ve caught many arthropods locked in my jaw
Maxilla robust, eversible pharynx and all
Predation or filtration, I’ve evolved to be the last
There isn’t a chance to escape my grasp
Errant or sedentary it matters none at all
Feathery sabellids, golden shimmering chrysoptelids
Beautiful aphroditids, chemoautotrophic siboglinids
Our diversity is great 10,000 strong and plenty more