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Habitat: Marine, freshwater, and moist terrestrial habitats for free-living forms. Parasites are mostly endoparasites.

External Anatomy: Bilateral symmetry. Dorsoventrally flattened. Moderate cephalization. Segmentation absent. Mouth is ventral. they have a mouth, but do not have an anus They range in size from 10m to 25m.

Internal anatomy
Excretion in Platyhelminthes
Here there is a mouth, which opens, occasionally through a pharynx, into a mass of loosely packed cells. A flame cell is a specialized excretory cell Flame cells function like a kidney, removing waste materials. Bundles of flame cells are called protonephridia. The flame cell has a nucleated cell body, with a "cup-shaped" projection, with flagella covering the inner surface of the cup. The beating of these flagella resemble a flame, giving the cell its name. The cup is attached to a tube cell. The inner surface of the tube cell is coated in flagella. The beating of the cilia and flagella help move liquid through the tube cell. The tube opens externally through a nephropore, or, in the trematoda, into an excretory bladder. The function of these cells is to regulate the osmotic pressure of the worm, and maintain its ionic balance. Microvilli in the tube cell may be used to reabsorb some ions. The other end of the tube ends blindly within the body in a spherical structure containing long cilia these are called flame cells (Figure 10). Excess water (and possibly wastes) enters the flame cell system and is propelled through the tubules toward the outside by the beating of the cilia (the "flame"). Flame cell move material toward the excretory canal.

Respiration and Circulation in Platyhelminthes

Platyhelminthes lack respiratory and circulatory systems. These animals are small and are always found in a moist environment whether they are free-living or parasitic. When present (as in Dugesia sp.), the gastrovascular system (meaning gut-transport) serves to transport nutrient materials. Otherwise, all internal transport occurs by simple diffusion through and between cells of the small body. Flatworms lack a respiratory or circulatory system; these functions take place by absorption through the body wall. They respire by diffusion (no specialized respiratory organs).

Reproduction in Platyhelminthes
Planarians are hermaphroditic organisms that have both male and female sex organs in the same individual. Copulation in flatworms is usually mutual, each partner inseminating the other. The reproductive system of planaria is difficult to locate, even in live animals, and will not be observed during this lab. Note that the body plan, digestive systems, and methods of reproduction of tapeworms and liver flukes are quite different compared to planarians.

Nervous system and sensory organs

Whilst the more "primitive" free living platyhelminthes such as the polyclads have only a simple nerve net, others have much more complex systems. In the free living turbellarians there is a mass of nervous tissue at the anterior end of the organism (the "Brain"), from which two nerve cords run down the length of the body, connected together by many transverse nerve fibres, giving a characteristic "ladder"

type of construction. In addition there are numerous side branches from the two main nerve cords, many of which, in the free living groups, are connected to sensory organelles. These sensory organelles include eye spots, and numerous specialised cells, capable of detecting touch, water movement, and chemical stimuli (important in location of food). In the parasitic Trematodes and Cestodes the presence of these sensory organelles is usually much reduced, although they may be present at particular stages in the lifecycles of these organisms. For example the free swimming cercaria and miracidia use highly specialised sensory organelles to locate their hosts. The organisation of the nervous system of the adult trematode is very similar to that of the turbellarians. In the cestodes an anterior nerve mass is found in the scolex, from which two, and sometimes more, nerve cords extend throughout the length of the strobila, often conected together by nerve rings within each individual proglottid.