21 November 2008

Wildfacts updates: flatworms, bristleworms and more worms

With grateful thanks to Leslie Harris, I've sorted out some of our worms!
Family CirratulidaeIt all started with her very kind ID of this wondrous worm. She remarked on my flickr photo: "See the pointed head on the right? That's typical for family Cirratulidae. Cirratulids have multiple branchiae going down the body but the filaments are often concentrated at the anterior end which makes them look like terebellids." and shared her own awesome photo of this worm.

She later very promptly provided lots of details and corrections to the Wildfacts pages on worms! Here's all the changes.

Leslie points out that this flatworm looks more like Maritigrella virgulata. It has a dashed red line along the centre of the body. My lame common name for this is Red-line flatworm. As you can see, I need help with better suggestions.
It does look similar to the Punctuated flatworm (Maritigrella fuscopunctata) below
which does not have this red line and has a broader plain portion along the centre of the body. I had earlier grouped both these Maritigrella flatworms together.

Leslie points out that this flatworm might be Pseudobiceros uniarborensis. I had earlier labelled them as Pseudobiceros hancockanus.
Leslie points out that the outer margin in P. hancockanus is solid bright white; the outer margin of P. uniarborensis is translucent gray with a white line on the outside.

Leslie suggests that these blue-edged flatworms with three lines along the body length are Pseudoceros tristriatus, which naturally translates to the common name of Three stripe flatworm. 'Tri' meaning 'three' and 'striatus' meaning stripes. I must have been blind to miss this photo ID in the nature guidebook...haha.
I had just lumped these together with the other blue-edged flatworms with only one blue stripe along the body length, the Blue-lined flatworm.
Leslie says these are probably Pseudoceros sp. Even the ones with the orange and blue central line is possibly the same as the ones with just a blue central line. But she adds that some of these with orange on either side of the central line, might be a pale version of Pseudoceros concinnus.

This small white flatworm with blue spots around its body edges, which I call the Blue-spotted flatworm, Leslie says is similar to Pseudoceros indicus.I had labelled these worms in pajamas as Pseudobiceros fulgor, the Fine-lined flatworm. But Leslie does not think this is Pseudobiceros fulgor. She comments that the arrangement and size of the lines and the margin are too different. On the other hand she couldn't match it to anything else. Thus this flatworm shall remain as "awaiting identification". I've rarely seen this flatworm and will try to take a better photo the next time I do see it.

While this commonly seen Brown strip flatworm is indeed Pseudobiceros gratus,Leslie points out that those with white lines on the inside of the margin and outside the dark central line are listed as Pseudobiceros cf gratus.The Very long ribbon worm, can indeed get very VERY long.Leslie suggests this is Baseodiscus delineatus.

While the black phoronid worm, Leslie suggests this is Phoronis australis. She adds that according to Emig this is the only species which attaches to cerianthid (peacock anemone) tubes. Thus, a change of common name seems in order, I've decided to call it the Peacock anemone phronoid worm. Too much of a mouthful?

Leslie's specialty is polychaetes and these need super awesome photos for identification. The photos taken by her show the standards needed, like this one done by her!and MORE of her wondrous photos on the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County website.

So I am very grateful for the time she took with my rather poor polychaete photos.

The Beautiful fireworms, Leslie says the ones with clearly outlined round or oval spots on each segment are probably Chloeia flava.
But she does not know what the ones with the triangles on each segment are.I had lumped these green and sometimes pink worms together and called them Reef worms as that's where they are generally found.
Leslie says these are from Family Amphinomidae. She says they appear to be Eurythoe complanata and adds that there’s some debate over whether this is one widespread species or a complex of morphologically similar species.

As for our Giant reefworm, she remarked "?? I’d need specimens to confirm the id". Oops.
Well, it looks like there's much to learn even from this, our most humungous and quite commonly encountered bristleworm!

These worms that build thin tubes very close together, I called Gregarious tubeworms and labelled Family Capitellidae (from the Guide to Mangroves of Singapore).
Leslie's remarks were "No. None of the species in family Capitellidae build tubes like this." She identified one of the tubes as possibly from Family Chaetopteridae.

We sometimes see a long worm on Chek Jawa that is red or pink, with feathery appendages on the side of the body, and often without a head!
Leslie says this is "Family Onuphidae, genus Diopatra. This is the only genus in the family whose branchiae have spiraled filaments around a central stem."
AHA! And these are the tube of Diopatra sp. which I call Solitary tube worms. So we now know what the worms look like too! So how did they get out of their tubes and lose their heads? Were they yanked out by shorebirds? There sure is a lot more we need to observe and learn about our shores.

I am very grateful to Leslie Harris not only for taking the time to share comments and identification of these worms, but also for her encouragement and inspiring thoughts. Her fabulous photos makes me want to do better for the worms on our shores.

Leslie has subsequently emphasised that her identifications are all tentative since many worms can not be identified just from photos. I really love her comment that "animals don't read books so they don't know what they're supposed to look like!".

Leslie Harris is active on the net and contributes to many forums. Here's one write up about her on Nudi Pixel.

I really look forward to learning more from her about worms and life and everything else.

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