minor phyla

“Sea Mat” (Membranipora membranacea)

Also sometimes known as the “lacy crust bryozoan”, M. membranacea is a species of Membraniporid marine bryozoan which is widely distributed throughout the Northeast Atlantic, North Sea, and Mediterranean Sea. It also occurs in the North Pacific, ranging from Alaska to California. Like many other bryozoans M. membranacea is colonial, with many individual zooids forming a large mat-like colony. Individual M. membranacea, like other bryozoans, are suspension feeders using their lophophores to gather nutrients. 


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Image: USGS


Mertensia ovum

Commonly known as the “Arctic Comb Jelly” or “Sea Nut” Mertensia ovum is a species of cydippid ctenophore that occurs in Arctic and polar seas. Like many other ctenophores M. ovum is weakly bioluminescent and can produce a striking rainbow effect by beating their eight rows of cilia. Mertensia ovum is a carnivore and will feed on copepods and other small crustaceans that are snagged by its two sticky tentacles. 


Animalia-Ctenophora-Tentaculata-Cydippida-Merensiidae-Mertensia-M. ovum

Images: NOAA and Giro720

Lepidodermella squamata

…is a freshwater species of Gastrotrich (A minor phylum of microscopic marine  and freshwater worm like invertebrates, commonly known as “hairybacks”) which occurs in North America, South America, Japan, and much of Europe. L. squamata is typically found along the surface of water plants in lakes, ponds, streams, and marshes. L. squamata will feed on a range of detritus, bacteria, and algae, gliding across the substrate via the cilia on its ventral surface. 


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Image: Guiseppe Vago

Flustra foliacea

…a species of Flustrid bryozoan which boasts a wide distribution in the north Atlantic Ocean (on both the European and American sides), where is is restricted to colder sublittoral waters limiting its southern range to northern Spain. Like other bryozoans F. foliacea is actually a colonial animal, consisting of multiple zooids that word together as a ‘singular animal’. Flustra foliacea is a filter feeder and will filter the water around it for nutrients. 


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Image: Hans Hillewaert

Pectinatella magnifica

…is a species of freshwater colonial Lophopidid bryozoan (Phylum Bryozoa) which is widely distributed throughout North America and parts of Europe. P. magnifica colonies can reach lengths of ~2 meters and are typically seen attached to some sort of hard object. Like other bryozoans P. magnifica is a suspension feeder, using a specialized feeding structure known as a lophophore to gather nutrients. 


Animalia-Bryozoa-Phylactolaemata-Plumatellida-Lophopodidae-Pectinatella-P. magnifica

Image: Triclops200

Rhynchonelloidella smithi

…is a species of extinct Rhynchollid brachiopod which lived during the Middle Jurassic period. Fossil locations have been cited on continental shelves, indicating that Rhynchonelloidella smithi probably inhabited tropical, shallow coral seas, were it lived as a stationary suspension feeder.


Animalia-Brachiopoda-Rhynchonellata-Rhynchonellida-RHynchonellidae-Rhynchonelloidella-R. smithi

Image: Dwergenpaartje