Giant nerve fibers in annelids

Petersen, Mary Elizabeth MEPetersen at
Fri Mar 29 17:01:04 EST 2002

Try searching under Myxicola. I think this sabellid is the one with the
giant fibers. Take a look at the Ward & Fauchald 1997 Polychaete
Bibliography available at Resources (see below). Search for "myxicola" alone
or "myxicola and giant fibers" under Notes. (You may have to try the British
spelling (fibres) also!

Mary E. Petersen

Tel +45-35 32 10 67 - Fax +45-35 32 10 10
E-mail: mepetersen at

 -----Original Message-----
From: 	Geoff Read [ at] 
Sent:	Friday, March 29, 2002 10:45 PM
To:	annelida at
Subject:	Re: Giant nerve fibers in annelids

James Mahaffy,
> I ran across information in the second edition (1977) of Edwards and
> Lofty's Biology of earthworms (p. 105) that I think may be a typo. 
> They say that giant nerve fibers in annelids (I assume Lumbricus 
> terrestris) transmit impulses at 600 meters per second. 

In Stephenson (1930) "The Oligochaeta" the rate is given as 1.5 metres 
per second for earthworms. In Barrington (1967) "Invertebrate structure 
& function" the earthworm rate is 17 to 25 m/sec for the median giant 
fibre. Laverack (1963) "The physiology of earthworms" has the same 
figure and gives three journal sources for the original works done in the 
1930's - 40's.  

The annelid speed king is more likely to be a polychaete, being altogether 
rather more quick-witted and alert creatures that like to get out of the way 
before being chomped, but I do not have anything to hand that will tell us 
whether 600 m/s is conceivable and not a lapsus as one might suspect.    
Geoff Read < at>

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