The tubeworm Serpula columbiana has gone through a major name change (formerly S. vermicularis) and is now the serpulid representative along the entire west coast. It lives in distinctively coiled calcareous tubes attached to hard substrata, from which it emerges to filter-feed. A distinctive calcareous/rubbery operculum, modified from an ancestral tentacle and resembling a funnel, is pulled into the opening to protect the worm when it's in its tube. The worm's withdrawal into its tube is exceedingly fast, and is mediated by large-diameter nerve fibres characterised by fast conduction speeds. The worm's coloured tentacles are its most distinctive feature, not yet studied, but likely under genetic control. More on Serpula and related tubeworms can be found in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY: LEARN ABOUT TUBEWORMS.
Note Author: Tom Carefoot, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia.
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