Introduction to Superphylum Ecdysozoa

Identify the common characteristics of superphylum Ecdysozoa

The superphylum Ecdysozoa contains an incredibly large number of species. This is because it contains two of the most diverse animal groups: phylum Nematoda (the roundworms) and Phylum Arthropoda (the arthropods). The most prominant distinguising feature of Ecdysozoans is their tough external covering called the cuticle. The cuticle provides a tough, but flexible exoskeleton tht protects these animals from water loss, predators and other aspects of the external environment. All members of this superphylum periodically molt, or shed their cuticle as they grow. After molting, they secrete a new cuticle that will last until their next growth phase. The process of molting and replacing the cuticle is called ecdysis, which is how the superphylum derived its name.

What You’ll Learn to Do

  • Describe the features of animals classified in phylum Nematoda
  • Understand the importance of nematodes like Caenorhabditis elegans in research
  • Describe the features of animals classified in phylum Arthropoda
  • Identify the different subphylums in phylum Arthropoda

Learning Activities

The learning activities for this section include the following:

  • Phylum Nematoda
  • Nematodes in Research
  • Phylum Arthropoda
  • Subphylums of Arthropoda
  • Self Check: Superphylum Ecdysozoa


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