NIWA Guide to Polychaeta | Shore polychaetes | Pick shore group | Pick shore family | Shell polychaetes
Magelonidae Family Magelonidae (magelonid)
Spionida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
About Family Magelonidae polychaetes in New Zealand.  
How to recognise the family: Small thin worms which selectively deposit-feed on the surface using a pair of long, raggedly-papillose palps. The palps arise from beneath a very flat, shovel-like prostomium, which is almost transparent apart from 4 central longitudinal muscle bands. These features suffice to identify a worm as a magelonid. Another unique point is that chaetiger 9, which always ends an obviously distinct anterior body region, may have some spine-like chaetae with fine tips (the mucronate chaetae). Anterior chaetae are capillaries, while chaetae after chaetiger 9 are hooded hooks, bi- tri- or multi-dentate. A simple pinkish proboscis is usually partly protruding from beneath the prostomium. There are usually two small lateral anal cirri. Adult size: Up to 40 mm long and very thin.
How to recognise the New Zealand genera: The sole genus is Magelona, and the best-known name and type species of the genus, Magelona papillicornis Mnller, 1858, was once thought to occur widely around the world, including New Zealand, but this is not the case. It is not definitely known outside the original Brazilian locality and there are more than 50 other species.
Quick pick shore species: New Zealand representatives have not been reviewed but at least three species occur, one with frontal horns on the prostomium, the others with rounded prostomia, the commonest species close to the Australian Magelona dakinii Jones, 1978, the second species also having pocket-like lobes between several parapodia.
Possible misidentifications: None.
Distributions, lifestyle, and habitat: Throughout New Zealand. Mid-intertidal and subtidal to continental slope. Magelonids build wandering burrows in medium to fine sands. The worms are visible to the naked eye as pinkish threads when sediment clumps are broken apart by hand.
Abundance: Uncommon to moderately common, very occasionally the most abundant polychaete present.
Taxonomic note: Data missing.
References: (Jones 1978: p355-360, f69-90), (Uebelacker & Jones 1984: p7.1-29, f7.1-26).
(Full citations at Family pages literature cited list.)

Species in the guide: Rock Species: None for this family.
Sand Species: Magelona dakini
Shell Species: None for this family.

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Last modified by G. Read, 25/07/2004    (dd/mm/yy)