NIWA Guide to Polychaeta | Shore polychaetes | Shell polychaetes
Shell worm Brevibrachium maculatum Onuphidae (onuphid)
Eunicida (Annelida: Polychaeta)
Brevibrachium  maculatum  (Estcourt, 1966).   Family Onuphidae  
     Brevibrachium maculatum lateral head
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 Identification tips:    F. Onuphidae. Forward-directed first few parapodia, and jaws present. Thick parchment tube lining. Distinctive colour pattern(s) present.
 Habitat: Marine shelf. Known from mollusc shell. In gastropods. In self-created shell-borings. Recorded from living shells of New Zealand commercial shellfish: Haliotis iris. Tube lining constructed of clear secretion. Tube chimney absent.
 Nomenclature: Genus Brevibrachium in Family Onuphidae. Brevibrachium maculatum. Described by Estcourt, published in 1966, as Rhamphobrachium maculatum. Type locality: New Zealand, Three Kings Islands. Other synonyms: None recorded. Transferred to Brevibrachium by Paxton (1986). Also earlier reported as Rhamphobrachium chuni (not Ehlers)
 Description:  Head region: Short antennae and tentacular cirri present. Eyespots present. Calcified mandibles present. Jaws present. Colouration: Dorsal pigmentation pattern present; dark anterior dorsal pigmentation present. Dark anterior pigmentation on some anterior chaetigers. Branchiae, chaetae, and pygidium: Branchiae adjoining parapodia absent anteriorly, present from chaetiger 15-17 as strap-like filaments, absent posteriorly. Parapodial lobes present, subbiramous (notopodial lobe reduced to branchiae and dorsal cirri). Anterior 3 pairs of parapodia extended forward, each with 6-8 long thin simple hook-tipped chaetae. From chaetiger 4 chaetae include capillaries, comb-like chaetae, and thick bidentate subacicular hooks (from chaetiger 8-9).
 Dimensions: Length 45 mm. Width 2 mm. Segment total 110.
 Reproduction: Direct development from large eggs laid inside the tube.
 Distribution:  Not known to be invasive or anthropochoric. Global distribution includes New Zealand mainland and Australia..
 Remarks:  The 'unusual' reproduction of this species was briefly reported in a note to Nature.
 Biology: This species is also reported to burrow in limestone and to attach its tube within algal holdfasts. Feeding group: Surface omnivore.
 Best References:   Biology: Smith and Jensz (1968) Unusual mode of reproduction in a new species of polychaete.. Nature 218:777 Taxonomy: Paxton (1986) Revision of the Rhamphobrachium complex, Polychaeta: Onuphidae. Records of the Australian Museum 38:75-104.

  Synonyms,  NZ records Original figures Original description details
 Genus diagnosis More pictures Further references (biology, etc) Family Onuphidae

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The information provided by this page and by the pages of the "more information" links is held in a structured form for rapid and frequent updating and improvement. Descriptive text is compiled from a number of database fields, some of which may occasionally be empty.
Data last edited 19/07/2004  (dd/mm/yy), and page last generated by G. Read, 25/07/2004  (dd/mm/yy)