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Feather duster worm.jpg
Sabellidae worm, probably Sabellastarte sp.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Polychaeta
Order: Canalipalpata
Suborder: Sabellida
Family: Sabellidae
Malmgren, 1867

Sabellidae (feather duster worms) are a family of sedentary marine polychaete tube worms in which the head is mostly concealed by feathery branchiae. Sabellids build tubes out of a tough, parchment-like exudate, strengthened with sand and bits of shell. Unlike the other sabellids, the genus Glomerula secretes a tube of calcium carbonate instead. Sabellidae tend to be common in the intertidal zones around the world. Their oldest fossils are known from the Early Jurassic.[1][2]


Sabellidae (feather duster worm).jpg

Feather-duster worms have a crown of feeding appendages or radioles in two fan-shaped clusters projecting from their tubes when under water. Each radiole has paired side branches making a two-edged comb for filter feeding. Most species have a narrow collar below the head. The body segments are smooth and lack parapodia. The usually eight thoracic segments bear capilliaries dorsally and hooked chaetae (bristles) ventrally. The abdominal segments are similar, but with the position of the capilliaries and chaetae reversed. The posterior few abdominal segments may form a spoon-shaped hollow on the ventral side. Size varies between tiny and over 10 cm (2.5 in) long. Some small species can bend over and extend their tentacles to the sea floor to collect detritus.[3]


Sabellid with feathery branchiae extended

The following genera belong to the family:[4]


  1. ^ Vinn, O.; Mutvei, H. (2009). "Calcareous tubeworms of the Phanerozoic" (PDF). Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences. 58 (4): 286–296. doi:10.3176/earth.2009.4.07. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  2. ^ Vinn, O.; ten Hove, H.A.; Mutvei, H. (2008). "On the tube ultrastructure and origin of calcification in sabellids (Annelida, Polychaeta)". Palaeontology. 51: 295–301. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2008.00763.x. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  3. ^ NIWA Guide to Polychaeta
  4. ^

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