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Flatworms, Nematodes, and Arthropods

18 November, 2015 - 11:10

Flatworms are acoelomate, triploblastic animals. They lack circulatory and respiratory systems, and have a rudimentary excretory system. The digestive system is incomplete in most species. There are four traditional classes of flatworms, the largely free-living turbellarians, the ectoparasitic monogeneans, and the endoparasitic trematodes and cestodes. Trematodes have complex life cycles involving a secondary mollusk host and a primary host in which sexual reproduction takes place. Cestodes, or tapeworms, infect the digestive systems of primary vertebrate hosts.

Nematodes are pseudocoelomate members of the clade Ecdysozoa. They have a complete digestive system and a pseudocoelomic body cavity. This phylum includes free-living as well as parasitic organisms. They include dioecious and hermaphroditic species. Nematodes have a poorly developed excretory system. Embryonic development is external and proceeds through larval stages separated by molts.

Arthropods represent the most successful phylum of animals on Earth, in terms of number of species as well as the number of individuals. They are characterized by a segmented body and jointed appendages. In the basic body plan, a pair of appendages is present per body segment. Within the phylum, classification is based on mouthparts, number of appendages, and modifications of appendages. Arthropods bear a chitinous exoskeleton. Gills, tracheae, and book lungs facilitate respiration. Embryonic development may include multiple larval stages.