Triploblastic Acoelomate Body Plan

THE Triploblastic Acoelomate Body Plan

EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE

Members of the phyla Platyhelminthes, Nemertea and Gastrotricha show following advance characters:

  1. They are first bilaterally symmetrical animals. Therefore, they are more Complex than the cnidarians.
  2. All these animals are triploblastic.
  3. They are acoelomate (without a coelom).
  4. They are classified into three phyla:

(a) Phylum Platyhelminthes: It includes the flatworms. They are free living (e.g.. turbellarians) or parasitic (e.g.. flukes and tapeworms)

(b) Phylum Nemertea: It includes a small group of worms. These worms are elongated, unsegmented and soft bodied. They are mostly marine and free living.

(c) Phylum Gastrotricha: These animals live in the space between bottom sediments.

The evolutionary relationship of Platyhelminthes to other phyla is controversial

There are three views about this evolution:

(a)  First View: Evolution from radial diploblastic animals

Triploblastic acoelomate is an intermediate group between the radial, diploblastic plan and the triploblastic coelomate plan. Therefore, the flatworms are an evolutionary side branch from a triploblastic acoelomate ancestor. Thus evolution of flat worms took place from radial ancestors. It formed a larval stage. This larva became sexually mature. Sexual maturity in a larval body form is called paedomorphosis.

(b) Second view: Evolution from bilateral ancestor


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Other zoologists believe that triploblastic acoelomate was formed from a bilateral ancestor. Primitive acoelomates and triploblastic were formed earlier than the radiate phyla. Therefore the radial, diploblastic plan was secondarily derived from it.

(c)  Third view: Acoelomate derived from coelomate

There is recent discovery of a small group of worms (Lobatocercebridae, Annelida). These worms show both flatworm. and annelid characteristics. It suggests that the acoelomate body plan is secondary characteristic. Thus,  the flatworms represent a side branch. It is formed as a result of loss of a body cavity.

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