Below are the figures of polychaetes with more distinguishing features. However, not all the polychaete families are represented here. Please refer to EPIC Online if you cannot find a match with your specimen.

Aphrotiditae with hair-like setae on its back

Aphrotiditae with elytra(scales) on its back

Sigalionidae with dorsal scales and compound neurosetae.

Polynoidae flattened with overlapping dorsal scales.

Polyodontidae with dorsal scales and spinning glands.

Palmyridae with notosetae flattened and in rosettes.

Pectinaridae with body shaped like a cone.
Prostomium is reduced and rest of body is divided into 3 regions.

Flabelligeridae with long setae surrounding head region.

Scalibregmatidae: small worms with Tshaped prostomium.

Nephtyidae with pentagonal prostomium

Terebellidaewith long grooved buccal tentacles.

Trichobranchaetidaewith long grooved buccal tentacles

Oweniidae with fused prostimium and mouth with frilly tentacles.

Sabellariidae with tube-blocking crown of paleae and unsegmented tail region.

Serpulidae with frilly plume of radioles emerging from calcareous tubes.

Sabellidae with cylindrical body with a tentacular branchial crown.

Chaetopteridae Body divided into 3 distinct regions.

Arenicolidae :Prostomium without appendages. Cylindrical body divided into 3 regions.

Maldanidae jointed in appearance: looks like bamboo.

Cirratulidae with long distinct filamentous feeding palps.

Cossuridae with a distinct single filamentous dorsal palp on anterior segment.

Dorvelleidae with 4 distinct antennae.

Hesionidae with 4 cirri and 1 pair of antennae. Relatively short bodied but with distict parapodia and segmentation.

Pilargiidae with 2 palps, 3 antennae and 4 cirri

Pilargiidae with simple setae througout the body

Poecilochaetidae fragile worms with 4 cirri and 2 long grooved palps for feeding.

Pisionidae with first segment projecting outward.

Spionidae with caruncle and 2 large feeding palps.

Syllidae with 3 long, thin antennae and conspicous dorsal cirri. Conical prostomium.

Lysaretidae with 3 antennae

Opheliidae with distinct fusiform (rounded with tapering ends) shape.

Sternapsidae with plump body and chitinised shield at posterior end.

Glyceridae with everted proboscis

Phyllodocidae with everted proboscis

Eunicidae with 5 distingushing antennae and peristomium without cirri and parapodia.

Onuphidae with 5 staggered antennae.

Trochochaetidae with 2 eyes and 1 antennae.

Nereidae with conical head and 1 terminal antennae.

Alciopidae with 2 large developed eyes.

Orbinidae :Threadlike worms with prostomium without any appendages.

Capitellidae short, conical prostomium without appendages. Cylindrical body.

Lumbrinereidae earthworm like without prostomial appendages.

Arabellidae without prostomial appendages and a conical prostomium.
Pictures by P.W. Arnold (Queensland Museum).
An introduction to the external morphology of polychaetes is also available for beginners who are unfamiliar with polychaetes anatomy.


General Morphology



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