Drawing of a bryozoan

Bryozoans are tiny polyp-like animals that always form small coral-like colonies. Bryozoans are common on modern seashores but are often over-looked or mistaken for corals or seaweed. The tiny polyps differ from corals in having complete organ systems, the next step beyond the coral’s tissue level of development. Organs include a complete digestive system, muscles for retracting into their chambers, and a unique feeding mechanism called a lophophore that is shared only by the brachiopods. All this in such a minuscule creature!

One can usually recognize bryozoans by the tiny dots that cover the surfaces of the colony. Each dot is a hollow chamber or zooecium (plural zooecia) where a bryozoan lived. To see these zooecia well, use a magnifier. Your binoculars used upside down make a good magnifier. The drawing to the left is a cross-section of a bryozoan in its chamber, showing muscle fibers behind the stomach. Width of this drawing is 1/32 inch!

Fossils Cover
Introduction   What are fossils?   Fossil Classification   Sponges
Corals   Intro to Bryozoans   Bryozoans 1   Bryozoans 2
Bryozoans 3   Intro to Brachiopods   Brachiopods 1
Brachiopods 2   Brachiopods 3   Brachiopods 4
Clams   Snails   Crinoids   Echinoids

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