[Annelida] seta vs chaeta

Rafael Sarda sarda at ceab.csic.es
Fri Apr 21 03:13:03 EST 2006

Dear all:

During the revision process of the Proceedings of the VIII International
Polychaete Conference (IPC), we decided to use chaeta instead seta all over
the papers. As some of the proofs have already been sent, probably Sergio
got these changes in his paper.

Although I am not an expert in the question, and I really believe this
(Annelida) is a good forum to establish a discussion on this particular
subject that, by the way, is in the core word of our field (Polychaetes), I
will not find correct, besides grammar discussions, to understand that
polychaetes can have both chaeta and seta in their bodies at the same time.

I will look forward to see a discussion on that particular issue trough
Annelida o during the next IPC, but in the meanwhile I hope you do not mind
that in the papers published under the Proceedings of the VIII IPC chaeta
would be the word used throughout all the book.

Finally, I just want to use this forum to let you know that, except two
papers, all the rest are in the Publishers and some of you probably got the
proofs.  Please, try to be quick with the proofs in order to speed up the
publication, intended this year.

Best wishes.

Rafael Sardá

-----Mensaje original-----
De: annelida-bounces at oat.bio.indiana.edu
[mailto:annelida-bounces at oat.bio.indiana.edu]En nombre de Sergio Salazar
Enviado el: jueves, 20 de abril de 2006 21:41
Para: g.read at niwa.co.nz
Asunto: [Annelida] seta vs chaeta

Dear Geoff,

Sorry to bother you again. Please forward the following message to Annelida
subscribers. I tried the former address, but something went wrong. Thanks a

. . . .

Dear colleagues,

During the evaluation of some of my recent papers, I have noticed a variable
level of insistence on using chaeta instead of seta (and derivatives).
However, as I will show below, although some authors regard them as
equivalent, they are not; the former meaning long hairs, while the latter
indicates short (rigid) hair. Since the latter are more akin to the annelid
structures, Polychaeta (or its antonym, Oligo-) might be wrongly

Jaeger (1931) in his classical and succinct volume makes both words
equivalent. Thus, for chaet (p. 26) he indicates that it means both hair and
bristle, while for set (p. 133) it only gives bristle.

After Brown (1956:195), chaeto- is formed after the Greek word chaite
meaning long hair or mane, and the entry asks to see hair.  Under hair (p.
390 ff), it includes several names made after chaet. In the same section (p.
392), it has the Latin word seta which is feminine and means bristle, and
this is repeated under seta (p. 699). This information s also available in

The Collins Cobuild dictionary (1993) states that bristles (p. 174) are: 1)
thick, strong, animal hairs that feel hard and rough, or 2) short, thick
hairs that grow on part of your body after you have shaved it. On the
contrary, mane (p. 883) is a horse’s or lion’s 
 long hair that grows from
its neck.

Thus, there are two features making these words differ; they are the
relative length and stiffness of the hairs they were originally employed
for. Therefore, in the worst scenario both usages should be allowed, and
perhaps the use of seta (and derivatives) should be preferred over chaetae,
because they are better etymologically applied, despite the fact that the
taxon name is Polychaeta.


Brown RW 1956 Composition of Scientific Words. Smithsonian, Washington, 882

Collins Cobuild (Collins Birmingham University Language Database) 1993
English Language Dictionary. Harper Collins, London, 1703 pp.

Jaeger, E.C. 1931. A dictionary of Greek and Latin combining forms used in
zoological names. Thomas, Springfield, 157 pp.

Best wishes,


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