Higgins, Robert P. Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
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A phylum of multicellular invertebrates. These marine organisms are entirely meiobenthic; that is, they never exceed a maximum dimension of 400 micrometers and live in sediments ranging from deep-sea red clay to coarse sand or shell hash. They have some of the smallest known cells in the animal kingdom. Although they have been found throughout the world, only 10 species representing three genera and two families have been described: the first described species (Nannaloricus mysticus) from shallow coastal waters near Roscof, France; eight species (including the first loriciferan seen, Pliciloricus enigmaticus) off North Carolina; and a single species from the western Pacific. Well over 50 species thought to represent several additional genera are known but remain undescribed.
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