Sunday, 6 April 2014

A new species of Phoronid Worm from Tomioka Bay, Japan.

Phoronids are tube-dwelling Lophophorate Worms. They superficially resemble Polychaete Fan-worms, but are in fact more closely related to Brachiopods and Bryozoans. These groups are united by the presence of a crown of tentacles (the Lophophore) surrounding the mouth, which continuously opens and shuts while feeding, snatching planktonic food items which are then consumed. Phoronids are thought to have diverged from other Lophophorate groups as early as the Cambrian, though they have no known fossil record.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 4 April 2014, Masato Hirose of the International Coastal Research Center at The University of Tokyo, Ryuma Fukiage of the Laboratory of Dead Body Science, also at The University of Tokyo and Toru Katoh and Hiroshi Kajihara of the Department of Natural History Sciences at the Hokkaido University describe a new species of Phoronid Worm from Tomioka Bay in western Kyushu, Japan.

The new species is placed in the genus Phoronis, and given the specific name emigi, in honour of Christian Emig, an expert on Lophophorates. Phoronis emigi was found living in a colony on the sandy bottom of Tomioka Bay, at densities of up to 90 individuals per 100 cm³. Individuals are tube-dwelling worms 4-20 mm in length.

Individual specimen of Phoronis emigi. Hirose et al. (2014).

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