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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Spoonworm Bonellia viridis

Female spoonworms have a proboscis that stretches out like an elastic band and can reach at least 3 ft (1 m) away in search of food.

The worm’s green, pear-shaped trunk remains hidden between rocks, safe from predators. In this species, the tip of the proboscis is forked, and usually this is all that can be seen of the worm. The proboscis collects food particles with the help of sticky mucus, and the food is moved along the proboscis and into the mouth by the whipping movements of hairlike cilia. Male spoonworms are tiny and parasitic on the females, their only function being to fertilize the female’s eggs.

Spoonwormzoom image
  • Phylum Echiura
  • Length Up to 6 in (15 cm)
  • Depth 3–330 ft (1–100 m)
  • Habitat Muddy rocks
  • Distribution Coastal temperate waters of northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean