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Temporal range: Ordovician–recent
Eunice aphroditois.jpg
Eunice aphroditois
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Polychaeta
Order: Eunicida
Family: Eunicidae

Eunicidae is a family of polychaetes (bristle worms). Many eunicids reach a considerable size. Their jaws are known from as far back as Ordovician sediments.[1] They live throughout the seas; a few species are parasitic.[1]

One of the most conspicuous of the eunicids is the giant, dark-purple, iridescent "Bobbit worm" (Eunice aphroditois), a bristle worm found at low tide under boulders on southern Australian shores. Its robust, muscular body can be as long as 2 m.[2]

Some species of eunicids prey on coral. Individuals have been found living unnoticed in reef aquaria for long enough to grow to great size.[3][4]

They have an evertible proboscis.[1]

In 2020, Zanol et al. stated, "Species traditionally considered to belong to Eunice are now, also, distributed in two other genera Leodice and Nicidion recently resurrected to reconcile Eunicidae taxonomy with its phylogenetic hypothesis."[5]


  1. ^ a b c Fauchald, K. (1992). "A review of the genus Eunice (Polychaeta: Eunicidae) based upon type material" (PDF). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. 523 (523): 1–422. doi:10.5479/si.00810282.523.
  2. ^ Keith Davey (2000). "Eunice aphroditois". Life on Australian Seashores. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  3. ^ Weast, Steve. "The Great Worm Incident". Oregon, USA. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
  4. ^ "Giant Sea Worm Unmasked as Coral Killer". 2012-11-21. Archived from the original on November 21, 2012. Retrieved 2015-06-07.
  5. ^ Zanol, Joana; Hutchings, Pat A.; Fauchald, Kristian (5 March 2020). "Eunice sensu lato (Annelida: Eunicidae) from Australia: description of seven new species and comments on previously reported species of the genera Eunice , Leodice and Nicidion". Zootaxa. pp. 1–43. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4748.1.1.

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