• Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Annelida
  • Class: Polychaeta
  • Subclass: Sedentaria
  • Order: Spionida
  • Family: Chaetopteridae
  • Scientific name: Chaetopterus variopedatus
  • Norwegian: -


The parchment worm can be found on any diveable depth from the tidal zone and down. The exact depth-distribution is uncertain. It usually lives in a self-made, U-shaped tube, buried in sand or loose gravel. Both ends of the the tube can be seen protruding out of the sea bed. In deeper water the tubes are often build in crevices or adhered to rocks.


This irregularly segmented worm may reach a length of 25 cm. The body consists of three regions. The short, front region (anterior region) has a shovel-like mouth and usually eleven, bristle-bearing segments. The middle section holds a wing-like structure used to form bags made of secrete and mucus. The next three segments hold paddle-shaped "pistons", used to pump water through the tube. The third and last body section (posterior region) consists of a large number of equal segments. The food collected from the passing water is collected in the mud bags and passed forward to the mouth, where they are swallowed whole.

The body color is white or pale yellow or green. Mature females are sometimes pink.


This is a cosmopolitan found across the world, in temperate as well as tropical waters.