Annelida: Polychaete Anatomy

Polychaete Anatomy

The structure of the digestive tract of polychaetes is variable, reflecting the diversity of feeding types. Respiration is entirely through the body wall in some polychaetes, and partially so in most. Many species have thin-walled extensions of the body surface, i.e., gills, used for gas exchange; most commonly the gills are extensions of the parapodia. The tentacles of feather-duster worms are used for respiratory exchange as well as for feeding. A polychaete may have a single pair of excretory tubes or a pair in each segment. Sedentary polychaetes have various modifications to insure that wastes will be deposited near the mouth of the tube or burrow, where they are washed away.

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