LORICIFERA CHARACTERISTICS

Bilaterally symmetrical
Distinct head, neck and trunk region
An eversible head and protrusible mouth cone with stylets
A trunk covered by a cuticle case of six longitudinal plates with forward directed spines at the anterior end.
Larval instars separated by moults
A well-developed brain and ventral nerve cord
A pseudocolomic hydrostatic skeleton
A through gut with terminal anus
Separate sexes
Marine
Greek: lorica = breastplate, corselet; fene = to bear

So far only one species has been described (in 1983, see right), but there are thought to be more. Recently (2010) 3 new species have been found in the Mediterranean, 200 m deep in anoxic sediment - an environment that was previously thought to support only bacteria. They are less than 3 mm long and cling to sedimentary particles; this makes detection difficult. They have an eversible, spiny stylets (see the drawing on the right) as found in the Kinorhynchans, but it is not known if it is everted in the same manner.

Loricifera