Thoracophelia are burrowing deposit feeders, generally found in the mid- to upper intertidal areas of sandy intertidals. Thoracophelia are characterized by having the body divided into three distinct body regions: (1) a head, (2) a swollen thoracic region, and (3) a longer narrower posterior region containing a ventral groove and branchiae. A lateral notopodial ridge or row of papillae separates the thoracic and posterior regions at the 10th chaetiger in all species (Blake, 2000; Santos et al., 2004).
Thoracophelia spp. can be distinguished by branchial structures, such as the three species found in North America: T. mucronata (Treadwell, 1914) is found along the west coast of North America and T. dillonensis (Hartman, 1938) and T. williamsi (Hartman, 1938) are found in central California (Law et al., 2013).
The genus Thoracophelia Ehlers, 1897, was recently revalidated by Blake (2011) and replaced genus Euzonus Grube 1866.
- Blake JA. 2000. 7. Family Opheliidae Malmgren, 1867. In: Blake JA, Hilbig B, Scott PH, editors. Taxonomic atlas of the benthic fauna of the Santa Maria Basin and western Santa Barbara Channel, Vol. 7. The Annelida part 4, Polychaeta: Flabelligeridae to Sternaspidae. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. pp 145–168.
- Blake JA. 2011. Revalidation of the genus Thoracophelia Ehlers, 1897, replacing Euzonus Grube, 1866 (Polychaeta: Opheliidae), junior homonym of Euzonus Menge, 1854 (Arthropoda: Diplopoda), together with a literature summary and updated listing of Thoracophelia species. Zootaxa 2807:65–68.
- Law CJ, Dorgan KM, & Rouse GW. 2013. Validation of three sympatric Thoracophelia species (Annelida: Opheliidae) from Dillon Beach, California using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data. Zootaxa 3608:067–074.
- Santos C, Nonato E. & Petersen M. 2004. Two new species of Opheliidae (Annelida, Polychaeta), Euzonus papillatus sp. n. from a northeastern Brazilian sandy beach and Euzonus mammillatus sp. n. from the continental shelf of south-eastern Brazil. Zootaxa 478:1–12.
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