Bamboo worms (family Maldanidae) comprise an easily recognizable family of bristle worms (class Polychaeta). Their common name they receive because of their elongated segments, ending with an appendage, which gives them the joint appearance of slender bamboo-shoots. These often fragile marine inhabitants can be found in mud-walled tubes in shelf sediments.
However, bamboo worms are tough to identify from each other. The problem is that to safely recognize them, a researcher needs both anterior and posterior ends from the same specimen. Nevertheless, now PhD student Wang Yueyun and Dr Li Xinzheng from the Marine Biological Museum, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered two new species and a new genus (Paramaldane). The new bamboo worms are described in the open access journal ZooKeys.
Several specimens of the new genus were found during re-examination of specimens collected from South China Sea between 1959 to 1962. The new genus is characterized by the collar-like glandular band on the sixth chaetiger. This is the first discovery of a collar-like structure in the subfamily of Maldaninae. Moreover, there is only one species in this genus till now.
Another discovery, published in the present study, is the second new species, called Maldane adunca, which belongs to another genus within the family. It is similar to the cosmopolitan species Maldane sarsi, yet the differences are clear. The shape of its nuchal grooves, a kind of sense organ, is much more curved, thus resembling hooks. Therefore, it is called adunca, meaning 'hooked' in Latin.
Both new species are only found in mud sediment of offshore waters of Hainan Island.
Wang Y, Li X (2016) A new Maldane species and a new Maldaninae genus and species (Maldanidae, Annelida) from coastal waters of China. ZooKeys 603: 1-16. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.603.9125