Annelida: Oligochaete Reproduction

Oligochaete Reproduction

All oligochaetes are hermaphroditic, and nearly all cross-fertilize by copulation. Male and female reproductive organs are located in separate segments. The copulating pair exchange sperm, which are stored in the body of the recipient worm until its eggs are mature. The worm then secretes a cocoon into which it deposits the eggs and the sperm; fertilization and development of the eggs occur in the cocoon. When the young emerge they are miniatures of the adults. The cocoon is secreted by a glandular region, the clitellum, consisting of several thickened segments. The clitellum of an earthworm is a conspicuous saddle-shaped region near its front end.

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