Annulata

Earthworms and Beachworms

Although various parasitic creatures have been described as flat "worms," round "worms," and so forth, naturalists regard as true worms only those of higher organization classified in the phylum Annulata, or annelids, the distinctive characteristic of which is that its members have elongated bodies divided into ringlike sections. These represent a division of the internal parts into a series of structural segments or "matemeres," each supplied with its own set of organs, yet connected by blood vessels and nerves, and the whole traversed by tubular organs serviceable to the entire animal. The nervous system consists of a "brain" in the head, and a double, ventral nerve-cord with a ganglion in every segment, foreshadowing the nervous system in insects and other arthropods. The phylum embraces three classes: 1. Chætopoda—earthworms and marine annelids; 2. Gephyrea—marine worms, otherwise called sipunculoids; and 3. Hirudinidæ—leeches.