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Acorn Worms (Saccoglossus cambrensis)

Acorn Worms (Saccoglossus cambrensis)

These are not true worms but belong to a very different group which until recently was part of the Chordates. They are quite distinct and internally have a notochord, found in the higher animals. They have three parts to the body: the anterior proboscis, a collar near the middle and a long abdomen. There are gills present. 10 - 20 cm long

Acorn Worms are quite an oddity and live in U-shaped burrows. Superficially it has similarities to the lugworm with cast of faeces at one end and a funnel opening at the other. However, it has additional tunnels and openings to use. The body is covered in ciliated cells which also produce mucus. These aid small flowing movements back and forth in the burrow. The proboscis is the device for burrowing and consuming the sand. As this passes through the gut so it digest any organic material present. The presence of cilia will cause a current of water to be drawn into the burrow. This brings detritus which gets caught in the mucus and can then be consumed.

Acorn Worms live buried in sand and gravels which are clean, usually away from estuaries, in the lower shore and below. This species is only found around the Atlantic shores although other species are found throughout.



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