Acorn Worm Giant

Undiscovered marine INVERTEBRATE.

Physical description: Adult Acorn worms (Class Enteropneusta) of the type P-'lanctosphaera pelagica have never been observed. The larvae (tornariae) are larger than those of other hemi-chordates, and if the size ratio is the same as in other species, the adults could grow to 9 feet long. The larvae are large, transparent spheres with arborescently branched, ciliated feeding bands and a U-shaped alimentary tract.

Habitat: Oceanic mud at depths of 250— 1,660 feet.

Distribution: Eastern North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans.

PP'ossible explanation: The larvae may be the abnormally enlarged tornariae of another family of Acorn worms (Ptychoderidae) that fail to metamorphose into adults.

Sources: C. J. van der Horst, "Planctosphaera and Tornaria," Quarterly Journal ofMicroscopial Science 78 (1936): 605-613; M. G. Hadfield and R. E. Young, "Planctosphaera (Hemi-chordata: Enteropneusta) in the Pacific Ocean," Marine Biology 73 (1983): 151-153; M. W. Hart, R. L. Miller, and L. P. Madin, "Form and Feeding Mechanism of a Living P-'lanctosphaera pelagica (Phylum Hemichordata)," Marine Biology 120 (1994): 521-533.

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