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Loimia medusa (Savigny in Lamarck, 1818) 

Spaghetti-Worm or the Red-Spotted Worm


John McLaughlin (2014)

 


Fact Sheet

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Summary


Brief Summary


Classification


Names


Physical Description


General Body Plan


The Tentacles


Colouration


Ecology


Habitats


Crypsis


Larvae


Behaviour


Overview


Feeding


Predatory Defense Mechanisms


Survival Mechanisms


Reproduction


Reproductive Characteristics


Reproductive Strategy


Case Study


Ecological Role


Overview


Secondary Production


Sediment Processing


Biogeographic Distribution


Life History


Larval Development


Building of Sandy Tube


Early Benthic Development


Conservation and Threats


References & Links

Brief Summary



Loimia medusa, commonly referred to as the spaghetti worm, is a species of Annelida from the class polychaete. It is marine dwelling organism with a circumtropical distribution, and is found throughout the Great Barrier Reef as a member of a group of relatively large, infaunal, tube and burrow-building species that are abundant in the lower polyhaline (R. Seitz & L. Schaffner, 1995). Loimia medusa can inhabit rock pools, bays, reef systems, warm estuaries and even open ocean, feeding on organic detritus by means of long slender tentacles which can extend to an incredible 18 inches. Typically subtidal, this polychaete ranges from the intertidal and shallow subtidal sands to muddy habitats of depths exceeding 130 feet. To avoid predation this polychaete which normally reaches lengths of about 250mm inhabit a U-shaped burrow generally 15-20cm long, where it is safe from the numerous organisms which prey upon them, such a cone shells. L. medusa has two body regions: the thorax which is brick red and usually thick in comparison to the rest of the body with dorsal bundles of setae and ventral pads bearing hooked setae; and the abdomen which is significantly thinner with reduced parapodia. 
The solitary lifestyle coupled with its ability to remain unseen within its environment mean that there is little information with regards to the species populations and life history of this animal. This being said it displays an array of unique morphological and behavioural characteristics whilst serving vital roles in the way of sediment recycling within the vast array of ecosystems it inhabits. 

Classification

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Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Annelida
Class
Polychaeta
Order
Terebellida
Family
Terebellidae
Genus
Loimia

Synonyms

Terebella medusa (Savigny, 1822)

Common Names

medusa worm
spaghetti worm
Medusenwurm
Spaghetti-Wurm
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Annelida
Class
Polychaeta
Order
Terebellida
Family
Terebellidae
Genus
Loimia
Species
medusa