Solenogastres are small worm-like mollusks found exclusively in marine habitats. They can be found all over the globe from shallow reefs to deep Antarctic waters. They range in size from large 30cm species to tiny ones that live between sand grands and are less than half a millimeter long. Solenogastres do not have a shell common among mollusks and are instead covered in calcium carbonate scales and spicules called sclerites.
Solenogasters and Caudofoveates together form the group called Aplacophorans. Aplacophorans and polyplacophorans form the clade called Aculifera that is sister to all other mollusks (conchifera). Solenogastres is currently divided into four orders including Pholidoskepia, Neomeniamorpha, Sterrofustia, and Cavibelonia.
Stout body shape with scale, needle, grooved, or harpoon shaped sclerites.
Thick cuticle with hollow needle, paddle, or hook shaped sclerites.
Thick cuticle with hollow needle shaped sclerites.
The sclerites of solenogasters are made of aragonite, a hard form of calcium carbonate. These sclerites can be found in a wide range of types including ones that look like scales, leaves, spines, hooks, and troughs. Some solenogasters will even have multiple different types of sclerites covering their bodies. These sclerites will often give solenogasters a shiny appearance.
The body of solenogasters have a uniform worm-like appearance. They have a narrow foot that runs along the bottom of the body. This foot is lined with pedal glands that secrete mucous to aid in movement. Solenogasters lack traditional gills and respire folds in the mantle cavity.
Solenogasters are carnivores feeding on cnidarians, mollusks, and annelids among other possible prey taxa. They can be found wrapped around the branches of soft corals which they prey on.
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