Bourlat, Sarah J. Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Swedish Museum of National History, Stockholm, Sweden.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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A newly erected phylum of simple marine worms. The phylum Xenoturbellida comprises two species, Xenoturbella bocki and Xenoturbella westbladi, whose natural habitat is in soft mud bottoms at a depth of approximately 60 m (200 ft) off the coasts of Sweden and Norway. Xenoturbella bocki was first discovered in 1915 by the Swedish biologist Sixten Bock, but was not described until 30 years later by Einar Westblad. As a result of its simplicity of form, Westblad initially classified Xenoturbella as a primitive turbellarian, a group of ciliated, nonparasitic flatworms, and named it accordingly (Xenoturbella = strange flatworm). However, recent analyses using DNA have found Xenoturbella to be a primitive member of the deuterostomes, the group of animals that includes the vertebrates. See also: Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); Deuterostomia; Turbellaria
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