Nature Blog Network

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Left: Typosyllis krohni Ehlers, 1864

Dr. Frank Licher has posted all the information you'll ever want (minus figures which you can get from his book) about the polychaete genus Typosyllis, which he revised. Syllids are one of my favorite polychaete familes because they have all these crazy dorsal cirri on each parapodia (i.e. each segment of the worm). The dorsal cirri are the squiggly appendages on the worm to the left. Dr. Licher also posts a key to the genus, species descriptions (in german), a figure demonstrating the variety of the main identification character - setae. It is this last character that prompted one of polychaetology's most accomplished living expert, Kristian Fauchald, to note in his authoritative key to polychaete genera*, "... close examination of the structure of the setae is also necessary, making the identification of the syllids a time-consuming occupation." Dr. Licher also has a beautiful SEM (scanning electron micrograph) of a Typosyllis on his webpage that worth a look (click on the picture to see it enlarged and in full).

* Fauchald K. 1977. The polychaete worms: definitions and keys to the orders, families and genera. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Science Series 28:1-188.

**Hat tip to Annelida listserve.


  1. Kevin Fauchald? Is that some sort of hero worship/transference thing? ;D
    Kristian Fauchald is more like it.

    Syllids are among my favorites too. Examination of setae is usually necessary for preserved specimens. If you're lucky enough to have live material you can identify some species by color pattern alone. Occasionally the pattern survives preservation & can be used for id without resorting to setae. There are a couple such live syllids on my museum website intro & gallery

  2. LMAO! thanks for spotting the error, freudian slip perhaps??

    Thanks for the link!

  3. Freudian slip? Perhaps. LOL He is certainly my Worm Hero but then I think polychaetes are the highest form of life!


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