“Vermes”

Abstract

I WISH to enter a protest against the continued use of the word “Vermes” as a term of systematic significance with the same value as “Mollusca,” “Arthropoda,” &c. Linnæus used the term to include all soft-bodied invertebrates—i.e. everything then known except the Arthropoda (his “Insecta”) and Vertebrata. Then Lamarck employed the word in a much more definite and unexceptional sense, to include the parasitic worms, the Chætopoda being separated as “Annelida.” But what do modern writers meant by “Vermes”? Why, it has nearly as indefinite a limit as that given to it by Linnæus, for it is used to include almost any invertebrate animal—never mind its structure—which does not fit in the Mollusca, Arthropoda, Echinoderma, Cœlentera, or Protozoa. In fact, the term, as employed in such authoritative publications as the Zool. Record, Zool. Jahresbericht, &c., as well as by Jackson in “ Forms of Animal Life,” and in Lang's text-book, &c., embraces all, or most, of the following groups of animals:—Cestoda, Trematoda, Planaria, Nemertina, Archiannelida, Chætopoda, Hirudinea, Gephyrea, Polyzoa, Brachiopoda, Nematoda, Acanthocephala, Rotifera, Sagitta, Echinoderes, and sundry other small worm-like forms, and even Balanoglossus, and occasionally Chætoderma and Neomenia.

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