The coelom is the main body cavity in most animals[1] and is positioned inside the body to surround and contain the digestive tract and other organs. In developed animals, it is lined with mesothelium. In other animals, such as molluscs, it remains undifferentiated.

Annelid redone w white background
Cross-section of an oligochaete worm. The worm's body cavity surrounds the central typhlosole.
Pronunciation(/ˈsiːləm/ SEE-ləm, plural coeloms or coelomata /siːˈloʊmətə/ see-LOH-mə-tə)
Anatomical terminology


The term "coelom" derives from the Ancient Greek word κοιλία (koilía), meaning "cavity".[2][3][4]



During the development of the embryo, coelom formation begins in the gastrulation stage. The developing digestive tube of an embryo forms as a blind pouch called the archenteron.

In Protostomes, the coelom forms by a process known as schizocoely. The archenteron initially forms, and the mesoderm splits into two layers: the first attaches to the body wall or ectoderm, forming the parietal layer and the second surrounds the endoderm or alimentary canal forming the visceral layer. The space between the parietal layer and the visceral layer is known as the coelom or body cavity.

In Deuterostomes, the coelom forms by enterocoely: mesoderm buds from the walls of the archenteron and hollows to become the coelomic cavities. Deuterostomes are therefore known as enterocoelomates. Examples of deuterostome coelomates belong to three major clades: chordates (vertebrates, tunicates, and lancelets), echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers), and hemichordates (acorn worms and graptolites).


The evolutionary origin of the coelom is uncertain. The oldest known animal to have had a body cavity was the Vernanimalcula. Current hypothesis include:[2]

  • The acoelomate theory, which states that coelom evolved from an acoelomate ancestor.
  • The enterocoel theory, which states that coelom evolved from gastric pouches of cnidarian ancestors. This is supported by research on flatworms and small worms recently discovered in marine fauna ("coelom")


A coelom can absorb shock or provide a hydrostatic skeleton. It can also support an immune system in the form of coelomocytes that may either be attached to the wall of the coelom or may float about in it freely. The coelom allows muscles to grow independently of the body wall — this feature can be seen in the digestive tract of tardigrades (also known as water bears) which is suspended within the body in the mesentery derived from a mesoderm-lined coelom.

Coelomic fluid

The fluid inside the coelom is known as coelomic fluid. This is circulated by mesothelial cilia or by contraction of muscles in the body wall which are themselves of mesin.[5] The coelomic fluid serves several functions; it acts as a hydroskeleton, it allows free movement and growth of internal organs, it serves for transport of gases, nutrients and waste products between different parts of the body, it allows storage of sperm and eggs during maturation and it acts as a reservoir for waste.[6]

Classification in zoology

In the past, some zoologists grouped bilaterian animal phyla based on characteristics related to the coelom for practical purposes, knowing, and explicitly stating, that these groups were not phylogenetically related. Animals were classified in three informal groups according to the type of body cavity they possess, in a non-taxonomic, utilitarian way, as the Acoelomata, Pseudocoelomata, and Coelomata. These groups were never intended to represent related animals, or a sequence of evolutionary traits.

However, this scheme was followed by a number of college textbooks and some general classifications, but is now almost totally abandoned as a formal classification. Indeed, as late as 2010, one author of a molecular phylogeny study mistakenly called this classification scheme the "traditional, morphology-based phylogeny".[7]

Coelomate animals or Coelomata (also known as eucoelomates — "true coelom") have a body cavity called a coelom with a complete lining called peritoneum derived from mesoderm (one of the three primary tissue layers). The complete mesoderm lining allows organs to be attached to each other so that they can be suspended in a particular order while still being able to move freely within the cavity. Most bilateral animals, including all the vertebrates, are coelomates.

Pseudocoelomate animals have a pseudocoelom (literally “false cavity”), which is a fluid filled body cavity. Tissue derived from mesoderm partly lines the fluid filled body cavity of these animals. Thus, although organs are held in place loosely, they are not as well organized as in a coelomate. All pseudocoelomates are protostomes; however, not all protostomes are pseudocoelomates. An example of a Pseudocoelomate is the roundworm. Pseudocoelomate animals are also referred to as Blastocoelomate. Acoelomate animals, like flatworms, have no body cavity at all. Semi-solid mesodermal tissues between the gut and body wall hold their organs in place.

COELOMATES Coeloms developed in triploblasts but were subsequently lost in several lineages. The lack of a coelom is correlated with a reduction in body size. Coelom is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to any developed digestive tract. Some organisms may not possess a coelom or may have a false coelom (pseudocoelom). Animals having coeloms are called coelomates, and those without are called acoelomates. There are also subtypes of coelom:

Coelomate phyla

According to Brusca and Brusca,[8] the following bilaterian phyla possess a coelom:

For others, the coelomate phyla excludes Nemertea but also comprises Entoprocta, Pentastoma, Pogonophora (i.e., from tiny sessile aquatic animals to great whales and everything in between).[9]


In some protostomes, the embryonic blastocoele persists as a body cavity. These protostomes have a fluid filled main body cavity unlined or partially lined with tissue derived from mesoderm.

This fluid-filled space surrounding the internal organs serves several functions like distribution of nutrients and removal of waste or supporting the body as a hydrostatic skeleton.

A pseudocoelomate or blastocoelomate is any invertebrate animal with a three-layered body and a pseudocoel. The coelom was apparently lost or reduced as a result of mutations in certain types of genes that affected early development. Thus, pseudocoelomates evolved from coelomates.[10] "Pseudocoelomate" is no longer considered a valid taxonomic group, since it is not monophyletic. However, it is still used as a descriptive term.

Important characteristics:

  • lack a vascular blood system
    • diffusion and osmosis circulate nutrients and waste products throughout the body.
  • lack a skeleton
    • hydrostatic pressure gives the body a supportive framework that acts as a skeleton.
  • no segmentation
  • body wall
    • epidermis and muscle
    • often syncytial
    • usually covered by a secreted cuticle
  • most are microscopic
  • parasites of almost every form of life (although some are free living)
  • eutely in some
  • loss of larval stage in some
  • possibly pedomorphism

Pseudocoelomate phyla

According to Brusca and Brusca,[8] bilaterian pseudocoelomate phyla include:

Some authors list the following phyla as pseudocoelomates:

Ecdysozoans pseudocoelomates

Lophotrochozoans pseudocoelomates


Acoelomates lack a fluid-filled body cavity between the body wall and digestive tract. This can cause some serious disadvantages. Fluid compression is negligible, while the tissue surrounding the organs of these animals will compress. Therefore, acoelomate organs are not protected from crushing forces applied to the animal’s outer surface. The coelom can be used for diffusion of gases and metabolites etc. These creatures do not have this need, as the surface area to volume ratio is large enough to allow absorption of nutrients and gas exchange by diffusion alone, due to dorso-ventral flattening.

According to others, acoelomates include the cnidarians (jellyfish and allies), and the ctenophores (comb jellies), platyhelminthes (flatworms including tapeworms, etc.), Nemertea, and Gastrotricha.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Bailly, Anatole (1981-01-01). Abrégé du dictionnaire grec français. Paris: Hachette. ISBN 2010035283. OCLC 461974285.
  3. ^ Bailly, Anatole. "Greek-french dictionary online". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  4. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Coelom and Serous Membranes" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 642.
  5. ^ Ruppert, Edward E.; Fox, Richard, S.; Barnes, Robert D. (2004). Invertebrate Zoology, 7th edition. Cengage Learning. p. 205. ISBN 978-81-315-0104-7.
  6. ^ Dorit, R. L.; Walker, W. F.; Barnes, R. D. (1991). Zoology. Saunders College Publishing. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-03-030504-7.
  7. ^ Nielsen, C. (2010). The “new phylogeny”. What is new about it?. Palaeodiversity, 3, 149–150, [1].
  8. ^ a b R.C.Brusca, G.J.Brusca. Invertebrates. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland Mass 2003 (2nd ed.), p. 47, ISBN 0-87893-097-3.
  9. ^ "Coeloms and Pseudocoeloms". Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  10. ^ Evers, Christine A., Lisa Starr. Biology:Concepts and Applications. 6th ed. United States:Thomson, 2006. ISBN 0-534-46224-3.
  11. ^ R.C.Brusca, G.J.Brusca 2003, p. 379.

Further reading


The anus (from Latin anus meaning "ring", "circle") is an opening at the opposite end of an animal's digestive tract from the mouth. Its function is to control the expulsion of feces, unwanted semi-solid matter produced during digestion, which, depending on the type of animal, may include: matter which the animal cannot digest, such as bones; food material after all the nutrients have been extracted, for example cellulose or lignin; ingested matter which would be toxic if it remained in the digestive tract; and dead or excess gut bacteria and other endosymbionts.

Amphibians, reptiles, and birds use the same orifice (known as the cloaca) for excreting liquid and solid wastes, for copulation and egg-laying. Monotreme mammals also have a cloaca, which is thought to be a feature inherited from the earliest amniotes via the therapsids. Marsupials have a single orifice for excreting both solids and liquids and, in females, a separate vagina for reproduction. Female placental mammals have completely separate orifices for defecation, urination, and reproduction; males have one opening for defecation and another for both urination and reproduction, although the channels flowing to that orifice are almost completely separate.

The development of the anus was an important stage in the evolution of multicellular animals. It appears to have happened at least twice, following different paths in protostomes and deuterostomes. This accompanied or facilitated other important evolutionary developments: the bilaterian body plan, the coelom, and metamerism, in which the body was built of repeated "modules" which could later specialize, such as the heads of most arthropods, which are composed of fused, specialized segments.


The bilateria , bilaterians, or triploblasts, are animals with bilateral symmetry, i.e., they have a head (anterior) and a tail (posterior) as well as a back (dorsal) and a belly (ventral); therefore they also have a left side and a right side.The bilateria are a major group of animals, including the majority of phyla but not sponges, ctenophores, placozoans, and cnidarians. For the most part, bilateral embryos are triploblastic, having three germ layers: endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm. Nearly all are bilaterally symmetrical, or approximately so; the most notable exception is the echinoderms, which achieve near-radial symmetry as adults, but are bilaterally symmetrical as larvae.

Except for a few phyla (i.e. flatworms and gnathostomulids), bilaterians have complete digestive tracts with a separate mouth and anus. Some bilaterians lack body cavities (acoelomates, i.e. Platyhelminthes, Gastrotricha and Gnathostomulida), while others display primary body cavities (deriving from the blastocoel, as pseudocoeloms) or secondary cavities (that appear de novo, for example the coelom).

Body cavity

A body cavity is any fluid-filled space in a multicellular organism other than those of vessels (such as blood vessels and lymph vessels). The human body cavity normally refers to the ventral body cavity, because it is by far the largest.


Bryozoa (also known as the Polyzoa, Ectoprocta or commonly as moss animals) are a phylum of aquatic invertebrate animals. Typically about 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in) long, they are filter feeders that sieve food particles out of the water using a retractable lophophore, a "crown" of tentacles lined with cilia. Most marine species live in tropical waters, but a few occur in oceanic trenches, and others are found in polar waters. One class lives only in a variety of freshwater environments, and a few members of a mostly marine class prefer brackish water. Over 4,000 living species are known. One genus is solitary and the rest are colonial.

The phylum was originally called "Polyzoa", but this term was superseded by "Bryozoa" in 1831. Another group of animals discovered subsequently, whose filtering mechanism looked similar, was also included in "Bryozoa" until 1869, when the two groups were noted to be very different internally. The more recently discovered group was given the name Entoprocta, while the original "Bryozoa" were called "Ectoprocta". However, "Bryozoa" has remained the more widely used term for the latter group.

Individuals in bryozoan (ectoproct) colonies are called zooids, since they are not fully independent animals. All colonies contain autozooids, which are responsible for feeding and excretion. Colonies of some classes have various types of non-feeding specialist zooids, some of which are hatcheries for fertilized eggs, and some classes also have special zooids for defense of the colony. The class Cheilostomata have the largest number of species, possibly because they have the widest range of specialist zooids. A few species can creep very slowly by using spiny defensive zooids as legs. Autozooids supply nutrients to non-feeding zooids by channels that vary between classes. All zooids, including those of the solitary species, consist of a cystid that provides the body wall and produces the exoskeleton and a polypide that contains the internal organs and the lophophore or other specialist extensions. Zooids have no special excretory organs, and the polypides of autozooids are scrapped when the polypides become overloaded by waste products; usually the body wall then grows a replacement polypide. In autozooids the gut is U-shaped, with the mouth inside the "crown" of tentacles and the anus outside it. Colonies take a variety of forms, including fans, bushes and sheets. The Cheilostomata produce mineralized exoskeletons and form single-layered sheets which encrust over surfaces.

Zooids of all the freshwater species are simultaneous hermaphrodites. Although those of many marine species function first as males and then as females, their colonies always contain a combination of zooids that are in their male and female stages. All species emit sperm into the water. Some also release ova into the water, while others capture sperm via their tentacles to fertilize their ova internally. In some species the larvae have large yolks, go to feed, and quickly settle on a surface. Others produce larvae that have little yolk but swim and feed for a few days before settling. After settling, all larvae undergo a radical metamorphosis that destroys and rebuilds almost all the internal tissues. Freshwater species also produce statoblasts that lie dormant until conditions are favorable, which enables a colony's lineage to survive even if severe conditions kill the mother colony.

Predators of marine bryozoans include nudibranchs (sea slugs), fish, sea urchins, pycnogonids, crustaceans, mites and starfish. Freshwater bryozoans are preyed on by snails, insects, and fish. In Thailand, many populations of one freshwater species have been wiped out by an introduced species of snail. A fast-growing invasive bryozoan off the northeast and northwest coasts of the US has reduced kelp forests so much that it has affected local fish and invertebrate populations. Bryozoans have spread diseases to fish farms and fishermen. Chemicals extracted from a marine bryozoan species have been investigated for treatment of cancer and Alzheimer's disease, but analyses have not been encouraging.

Mineralized skeletons of bryozoans first appear in rocks from the Early Ordovician period, making it the last major phylum to appear in the fossil record. This has led researchers to suspect that bryozoans arose earlier but were initially unmineralized, and may have differed significantly from fossilized and modern forms. Early fossils are mainly of erect forms, but encrusting forms gradually became dominant. It is uncertain whether the phylum is monophyletic. Bryozoans' evolutionary relationships to other phyla are also unclear, partly because scientists' view of the family tree of animals is mainly influenced by better-known phyla. Both morphological and molecular phylogeny analyses disagree over bryozoans' relationships with entoprocts, about whether bryozoans should be grouped with brachiopods and phoronids in Lophophorata, and whether bryozoans should be considered protostomes or deuterostomes.


A coelomocyte (pronounced ), from the Ancient Greek koílōma, "cavity" or "hollow", and kýtos, "receptacle" or "container", is a phagocytic leukocyte that appears in the bodies of animals that have a coelom. In most, it attacks and digests invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses through encapsulation and phagocytosis, though in some animals (e.g., the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans) it does not seem capable of the phagocytosis. A coelomocyte may either be fixed to the body wall or may be free-floating within the coelom.


Deuterostomes (taxonomic term: Deuterostomia; meaning "second mouth" in Greek) comprise a superphylum of animals. It is a sister clade of Protostomia, with which it forms the Nephrozoa clade.

Deuterostomia is a subtaxon of the Bilateria branch of the subkingdom Eumetazoa, within Animalia, and are distinguished from protostomes by their deuterostomic embryonic development; in deuterostomes, the first opening (the blastopore) becomes the anus, while in protostomes, it becomes the mouth. (There are some occurrences of deuterostomy among protostomes.)Deuterostomes are also known as enterocoelomates because their coelom develops through enterocoely.

There are three major clades of deuterostomes:

Chordata (vertebrates and their kin)

Echinodermata (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, etc.)

Hemichordata (acorn worms and graptolites)


An earthworm is a tube-shaped, segmented worm found in the phylum Annelida. They are commonly found living in soil, feeding on live and dead organic matter. An earthworm's digestive system runs through the length of its body. It conducts respiration through its skin. It has a double transport system composed of coelomic fluid that moves within the fluid-filled coelom and a simple, closed blood circulatory system. It has a central and a peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of two ganglia above the mouth, one on either side, connected to a nerve cord running back along its length to motor neurons and sensory cells in each segment. Large numbers of chemoreceptors are concentrated near its mouth. Circumferential and longitudinal muscles on the periphery of each segment enable the worm to move. Similar sets of muscles line the gut, and their actions move the digesting food toward the worm's anus.Earthworms are hermaphrodites: each individual carries both male and female sex organs. As invertebrates, they lack either an internal skeleton or exoskeleton, but maintain their structure with fluid-filled coelom chambers that function as a hydrostatic skeleton.

"Earthworm" is the common name for the largest members of Oligochaeta (which is either a class or a subclass depending on the author). In classical systems, they were placed in the order Opisthopora, on the basis of the male pores opening posterior to the female pores, though the internal male segments are anterior to the female. Theoretical cladistic studies have placed them, instead, in the suborder Lumbricina of the order Haplotaxida, but this may again soon change. Folk names for the earthworm include "dew-worm", "rainworm", "night crawler", and "angleworm" (due to its use as fishing bait).

Larger terrestrial earthworms are also called megadriles (which translates to "big worms"), as opposed to the microdriles ("small worms") in the semiaquatic families Tubificidae, Lumbricidae, and Enchytraeidae, among others. The megadriles are characterized by having a distinct clitellum (which is more extensive than that of microdriles) and a vascular system with true capillaries.

Earthworms are far less abundant in disturbed environments and are typically active only if water is present.


Ecdysozoa () is a group of protostome animals, including Arthropoda (insects, chelicerata, crustaceans, and myriapods), Nematoda, and several smaller phyla. They were first defined by Aguinaldo et al. in 1997, based mainly on phylogenetic trees constructed using 18S ribosomal RNA genes. A large study in 2008 by Dunn et al. strongly supported the Ecdysozoa as a clade, that is, a group consisting of a common ancestor and all its descendants.The group is also supported by morphological characters, and includes all animals that grow by ecdysis, moulting their exoskeleton.

The group was initially contested by a significant minority of biologists. Some argued for groupings based on more traditional taxonomic techniques, while others contested the interpretation of the molecular data.

Embryonic coelom

Embryonic coelom may refer to:

Extra-embryonic coelom

Intra-embryonic coelom


Enterocoely (adjective forms: enterocoelic and enterocoelous) is a process by which some animal embryos develop. In enterocoely, a mesoderm (middle layer) is formed in a developing embryo, in which the coelom forms from pouches "pinched" off of the digestive tract (also known as the embryonic gut, or archenteron). This type of coelom formation occurs in deuterostome animals, which for this reason are also known as enterocoelomates.

Enterocoelous development begins once the embryo reaches the gastrula phase of development. At this point, there are two layers of cells: the ectoderm (outermost) and the endoderm (innermost) layers. The mesoderm begins to form as two "pockets" of tissue (one above the endoderm, and one below) are formed via folding of the endoderm. These "pockets" begin to grow larger, and as they do so, they extend towards each other. When the two "pockets" of cells meet, the mesoderm is formed – a complete layer of tissue right in between the endoderm and ectoderm layers. This then leads to the formation of a coelom.

Enterocoelous development is the stage of embryological development of deuterostomes in which the coelom forms. The stage starts with the gastrula; as the archenteron forms, pockets of migrating cells also form, creating another layer between the endoderm and ectoderm, the mesoderm. These pockets gradually expand to form the coelom.In protostomes, the body cavity is formed by schizocoely.

Gestational sac

The gestational sac is the large cavity of fluid surrounding the embryo. During early embryogenesis it consists of the extraembryonic coelom, also called the chorionic cavity. The gestational sac is normally contained within the uterus. It is the only available structure that can be used to determine if an intrauterine pregnancy exists until the embryo is identified.

On obstetric ultrasound, the gestational sac is a dark ("anechoic") space surrounded by a white ("hyperechoic") rim.

Intraembryonic coelom

In the development of the human embryo the intraembryonic coelom (or somatic coelom) is a portion of the conceptus forming in the mesoderm during the third week of development. During the third week of development, the lateral mesoderm splits into a dorsal somatic mesoderm (somatopleure) and a ventral splanchnic mesoderm (splanchnopleure). The resulting cavity between the somatopleure and splanchnopleure is called the intraembryonic coelom. This space will give rise to the thoracic and abdominal cavities. The coelomic spaces in the lateral mesoderm and cardiogenic area are isolated. The isolated coelom begins to organize into a horseshoe shape. The spaces soon join together and form a single horseshoe-shaped cavity, the intraembryonic coelom which separates the mesoderm into two layers.

It briefly has a connection with the extraembryonic coelom.


Leeches are segmented parasitic or predatory worms that belong to the phylum Annelida and comprise the subclass Hirudinea. They are closely related to the oligochaetes, which include the earthworms, and like them have soft, muscular, segmented bodies that can lengthen and contract. Both groups are hermaphrodites and have a clitellum, but leeches typically differ from the oligochaetes in having suckers at both ends and in having external annulations that do not correspond with their internal segmentation. The body is relatively solid, and the spacious body cavity found in other annelids, the coelom, is reduced to small channels.

The majority of leeches live in freshwater environments, while some species can be found in terrestrial and marine environments. The best-known, such as the medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, are hematophagous, attaching themselves to a host with a sucker and feeding on blood, having first secreted the peptide hirudin to prevent the blood from clotting. A minority of leech species are predatory, mostly preying on small invertebrates.

In aquatic species, the eggs are enclosed in a cocoon which is usually attached to something solid, but terrestrial species often conceal the cocoon under a log or in a crevice. Almost 700 species of leech are currently recognised, of which some 100 are marine, 90 terrestrial and the remainder freshwater.

Leeches were used in medicine from ancient times until the 19th century to draw blood from patients. In modern times, leeches find medical use in treatment of joint diseases such as epicondylitis and osteoarthritis, extremity vein diseases, and microsurgery, while hirudin is a valuable drug for some blood-clotting disorders.


Nephrozoa is a major clade of bilaterians, divided into the protostomes and the deuterostomes, containing almost all animal phyla and over a million extant species. Its sister clade is the Xenacoelomorpha. The coelom, the excretory organs, and nerve cords developed in the Nephrozoa.Chordates (which include all the vertebrates) are deuterostomes. It seems very likely that the 555 million year old Kimberella was a member of the protostomes. If so, this means that the protostome and deuterostome lineages must have split some time before Kimberella appeared — at least 558 million years ago, and hence well before the start of the Cambrian 541 million years ago.


The peritoneum is the serous membrane forming the lining of the abdominal cavity or coelom in amniotes and some invertebrates, such as annelids. It covers most of the intra-abdominal (or coelomic) organs, and is composed of a layer of mesothelium supported by a thin layer of connective tissue. This peritoneal lining of the cavity supports many of the abdominal organs and serves as a conduit for their blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerves.

The abdominal cavity (the space bounded by the vertebrae, abdominal muscles, diaphragm, and pelvic floor) is different from the intraperitoneal space (located within the abdominal cavity but wrapped in peritoneum). The structures within the intraperitoneal space are called "intraperitoneal" (e.g., the stomach and intestines), the structures in the abdominal cavity that are located behind the intraperitoneal space are called "retroperitoneal" (e.g., the kidneys), and those structures below the intraperitoneal space are called "subperitoneal" or "infraperitoneal" (e.g., the bladder).

Serous membrane

In anatomy, serous membrane (or serosa) is a smooth tissue membrane consisting of two layers of mesothelium, which secrete serous fluid. The inner layer that covers organs (viscera) in body cavities is called the visceral membrane. A second layer of epithelial cells of the serous membrane, called the parietal layer, lines the body wall. Between the two layers is a potential space, mostly empty except for a few milliliters of lubricating serous fluid that is secreted by the two serous membranes.The Latin anatomical name is tunica serosa. Serous membranes line and enclose several body cavities, known as serous cavities, where they secrete a lubricating fluid which reduces friction from muscle movement. Serosa is entirely different from the adventitia, a connective tissue layer which binds together structures rather than reducing friction between them. The serous membrane covering the heart and lining the mediastinum is referred to as the pericardium, the serous membrane lining the thoracic cavity and surrounding the lungs is referred to as the pleura, and that lining the abdominopelvic cavity and the viscera is referred to as the peritoneum.


The Sipuncula or Sipunculida (common names sipunculid worms or peanut worms) is a group containing about 162 species of bilaterally symmetrical, unsegmented marine worms. The name Sipuncula is from the genus name Sipunculus, and comes from the Latin siphunculus meaning a "small tube". Traditionally considered a phylum, Sipuncula seems to be closely related to Myzostomida and Annelida, and may be a subgroup of Annelida, based on recent molecular work. Sipunculans vary in size but most species are under 10 cm (4 in) in length.

The body is divided into an unsegmented, bulbous trunk and a narrower, anterior section, called the "introvert", which can be retracted into the trunk. The mouth is at the tip of the introvert and is surrounded in most groups by a ring of short tentacles. With no hard parts, the body is flexible and mobile. Although found in a range of habitats throughout the world's oceans, the majority of species live in shallow water habitats, burrowing under the surface of sandy and muddy substrates. Others live under stones, in rock crevices or in other concealed locations.

Most sipunculans are deposit feeders, extending the introvert to gather food particles and draw them into the mouth, and retracting the introvert when feeding conditions are unsuitable or danger threatens. With a few exceptions, reproduction is sexual and involves a planktonic larval stage. Sipunculid worms are used as food in some countries in southeast Asia.

Splanchnopleuric mesenchyme

In the anatomy of an embryo, the splanchnopleuric mesenchyme is a structure created during embryogenesis when the lateral mesodermal germ layer splits into two layers. The inner (or splanchnic) layer adheres to the endoderm, and with it forms the splanchnopleure (mesoderm external to the coelom plus the endoderm).

Water vascular system

The water vascular system is a hydraulic system used by echinoderms, such as sea stars and sea urchins, for locomotion, food and waste transportation, and respiration. The system is composed of canals connecting numerous tube feet. Echinoderms move by alternately contracting muscles that force water into the tube feet, causing them to extend and push against the ground, then relaxing to allow the feet to retract.The exact structure of the system varies somewhat between the five classes of echinoderm. The system is part of the coelomic cavities of echinoderms, together with the haemal coelom (or haemal system), perivisceral coelom, gonadal coelom and perihaemal coelom.Other terms sometimes used to refer to the water vascular system are "ambulacral system" and "aquiferous system". In the past, "aquiferous system" was also used to refer to many unrelated invertebrate structures, but today, it is restricted to water channels in sponges and the hydrostatic skeleton of some mollusks like Polinices.

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