Entoprocta (ĕnˌtəprŏkˈtə) [key], animal phylum consisting of small marine organisms living in shallow coastal waters. The entoprocts are either colonial or solitary. The body is vase-shaped, with the upper edge covered by ciliated tentacles that direct microscopic animals and debris into the U-shaped digestive tract. A stalk with an enlarged base attaches the organism to seaweed, other marine organisms, shells, or other material. Of the 60 or more known species, only one is found in freshwater. While in some species the sexes are separate, other species are hermaphroditic. Eggs and larvae develop in the ovary, and larvae are free-swimming before growing stalks and attaching. Pedicellina is a common marine colonial entoproct.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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