aschelminth [ask′hel minth]
in some systems of classification, any of a phylum (Aschelminthes) of wormlike animals, including rotifers, gastrotrichs, gordian worms, and nematodes: these animals are usually considered to be in separate phyla

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▪ former invertebrate phylum
phylum name  Aschelminthes,  or  Nemathelminthes,  

      a name referring to an obsolete phylum of wormlike invertebrates, mostly of microscopic size. Previously, phylum Aschelminthes included seven diverse classes of animals: Nematoda (or Nemata), Rotifera, Acanthocephala, Gastrotricha, Kinorhyncha (or Echinodera), Nematomorpha, and Gnathostomulida. (According to some authorities, Gnathostomulida was replaced by Priapula in this list.) At present, each of these classes, including Priapula, has been reclassified as a separate phylum.

      These animals were originally grouped together because all seemed to possess a peculiar type of body cavity called a pseudocoel (that is, a body cavity that does not contain a lining of mesoderm), which develops differently from the body cavities of other animals. It has become clear, however, that these animals do not have close evolutionary linkages with one another, and each group has been placed in its own phylum. On the other hand, rotifers appear to be strongly allied with acanthocephalans, and eventually these two groups may be classified together in the same phylum. On the whole, the other former aschelminths may be closely related to arthropods because all exhibit molting at some point during development.

Additional Reading
Two comprehensive classical works on the aschelminths are L.H. Hyman, The Invertebrates, vol. 3, Acanthocephala, Aschelminthes, and Entoprocta, the Pseudocoelomate Bilateria (1951); and Pierre P. Grassé (ed.), Traité de zoologie: anatomie, systématique, biologie, vol. 4, fascicle 2, Nèmathelminthes (nèmatodes), and fascicle 3, Nèmathelminthes (nèmatodes, gordiacés), rotifères, gastrotriches, kinorhynques (1965). More recent accounts include Paul A. Meglitsch, Invertebrate Zoology, 2nd ed. (1972); and Vicki Pearse et al., Living Invertebrates (1987), especially ch. 12 and 13. Papers on various aspects of rotifers are collected in the published proceedings of the International Rotifer Symposium; four meetings had been held by 1987.There is a much larger literature on the nematodes than other aschelminths because of their importance to humans. Introductory works include Neil A. Croll and Bernard E. Matthews, Biology of Nematodes (1977); Armand Maggenti, General Nematology (1981); Warwick L. Nicholas, The Biology of Free-Living Nematodes, 2nd ed. (1984); and George O. Poinar, Jr., The Natural History of Nematodes (1983). Parasitic forms are discussed in William R. Nickle (ed.), Plant and Insect Nematodes (1984); Gerald D. Schmidt and Larry S. Roberts, Foundations of Parasitology, 3rd ed. (1985); and Norman D. Levine, Nematode Parasites of Domestic Animals and Man (1980). Nematodes in biologic research are the subject of Bert M. Zuckerman (ed.), Nematodes as Biological Models, 2 vol. (1980).Warwick L. Nicholas

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • aschelminth — [ask′hel minth] n. in some systems of classification, any of a phylum (Aschelminthes) of wormlike animals, including rotifers, gastrotrichs, gordian worms, and nematodes: these animals are usually considered to be in separate phyla …   English World dictionary

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