The worm, Thelepus davehalli, is one of four species that have been newly identified or re-described by Dr Igor Jirkov of Moscow State University. His work was facilitated by samples supplied by APEM’s marine taxonomic laboratory in the UK.

Dave Hall explained: “I first met Igor when he visited the UK ten years ago as a guest speaker at a taxonomic workshop I helped to organise as part of the North East Atlantic Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control scheme, which is a long name for something that is actually very important in the world of marine taxonomy.”

“His contribution was excellent and we’ve worked together regularly ever since. He is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading experts in his field and he shows why international collaboration is such a valuable part of scientific work. I’m delighted that Igor has chosen to name a species after me.”

Dr Jirkov had realised that a species of worm known as Thelepus cincinnatus had been identified in samples from the high Arctic to the Mediterranean. Recognising that one species could not live in such diverse habitats, he set about re-examining it.

His recently published work shows that the species should be split into four distinct species with different characteristics and ranges.

  1. Thelepus cincinnatus has notopodia on almost all segments and numerous eyespots. It inhabits the high boreal and arctic shelf and the North Atlantic slope and probably also occurs on the North Pacific shelf and slope.
  2. Thelepus marthae has no eyespots and inhabits deep waters of the high Arctic.
  3. Thelepus davehalli has no eyespots, has notopodia on a half to two-thirds of the anterior of the body and inhabits boreal shelf waters from Iceland to the Mediterranean, below the tidal front.
  4. Thelepus parapari differs from the previous three species in that the uncini of the first uncinigerous segment has two teeth above the main fang. It inhabits shallow, coastal waters of the Mediterranean, inshore from the tidal front.

New species are recognised as such by experts in the taxonomy of particular groups and they are given formal scientific names through publication in peer reviewed journals, according to internationally recognised rules.

They are often named after people, places or descriptive features of the organism.

If you have any queries, please contact Dr David J Hall, Divisional Director and Head of APEM Labs.
Alternatively you can email us here. Or call 0161 442 8938.