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The prostomium is small and surrounded by anteriorly directed parapodia. The peristomium is reduced to lips. A pair of lateral antennae and a median antenna are present. The bases of the tapering, ventral palps are fused to the ventro-medial part of the first parapodia. Nuchal organs are present. The first segment carries two pairs of tentacular cirri (dorsal and ventral) and curves around the prostomium. Notopodia are shorter than the neuropodia, which are themselves truncated. Dorsal cirri are present on segments 3 and 6 only, and are replaced by marginally lobate elytra on segments 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 24. Elytra occur on alternating segments over the first half of the body; more posteriorly pseudoelytra are present or segments lack both elytra and dorsal cirri. Ventral cirri are present over the whole length of the body. True branchiae are lacking. The pygidium bears one pair of cirri. Lateral organs and dorsal cirrus organs have not been recorded. The buccal organ is eversible, muscular and axial, with the two pairs of jaws placed dorso-ventrally; terminal papillae are present. There is no gular membrane; the gut is presumed to have diverticula in each segment. The nephridia are probably metanephridia. Their relationship to the coelomoducts is unknown, as is the arrangement of segmental organs and the circulatory system. Aciculae are present and the chaetae comprise variously ornamented capillaries and spines.

The above description is based on Hutchings (2000), which in turn is based on Fauchald & Rouse (1997).

Identification tips

Recognising the family
Eulepethids are long-bodied scale worms which burrow in soft sediments; they have robust bodies which are nearly quadrangular in cross section. Eulepethids can be distinguished from other scale-worms by the characteristic neuropodia which are truncate distally supported by narrow , sclerotinised ridges.. The neuroaciculae of eulepethids are also unique: they are elongated, and are shaped like an axehead or hammer.

Eulepethids are most likely to be confused with one of the other families that also have dorsal rows of scales. The quick guide to scale worms should help separate these 6 families.

Distinguishing species
Within the Eulepethidae, genera and species are distinguished by the number of pairs of elytrae (scales) and the ornamentation of the margins of the elytrae.


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