Image: Lepidonotus squamatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Lepidonotus squamatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Family Polynoidae: Lepidonotus squamatus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Specimen from the White Sea , photographed alive in the laboratory)

Alexander Semenov
© Alexander Semenov


These animals are known as scale worms because they all carry scales (or “elytra”) on their backs, arranged in pairs along the body and can reach lengths of 3-5 cm. This species, photographed here under near-fluorescent light using blue filters on strobes and a yellow filter on the lens, has a habit much like the cartoon character “Shrek”, a territorial ogre who lives alone for most of the year, but unlike Shrek, is highly aggressive to any potential intruders. At the time of breeding this habit changes, pairs are formed, mating occurs and the fertilised eggs are released into the water column where the larvae spend some weeks. The adults are carnivores which rapidly evert their pharynx, heavily-armed with teeth, to catch a wide range of unsuspecting prey.

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