In external characters the Hirudinea are unmistakable and not to be confused with other Annelids, except perhaps with the Bdellodrilidae, which resemble them in certain particulars.
The coelom of the Hirudinea differs in most genera from that of the Oligochaeta and Polychaeta.
There is a definite Annelid group (see Annelida), including the Archiannelida, the bristleworms (see Chaetopoda), of which the earthworm (q.v.) is the most familiar type, the Myzostomida, Hirudinea (see Leech) and the armed Gephyreans (see Echiuroidea).
It has been ascertained that the nephridia of Oligochaeta are preceded in the embryo by a pair of delicate and sinuous tubes, also found in the Hirudinea and Polychaeta, which are larval excretory organs.
As is very frequently the case with marine forms, as compared with their fresh-water and terrestrial allies, the Polychaeta differ from the Oligochaeta and Hirudinea in possessing a free living B FIG.
Goodrich), that among the Hirudinea the coelom, which is largely broken up into narrow tubes, may be confluent with the tubes of the vascular system.
Slight differences in form have been noted between nephridia of different segments; but the Hirudinea do not show the marked differentiation that is to be seen in some other Chaetopods; nor do the nephridia ever acquire any relations to the alimentary canal.
They are divided as follows: (i) Haplodrili or Archiannelida; (2) Chaetopoda; (3) Myzostomida, probably degenerate Polychaeta; (4) Hirudinea (see CHAETOPODA and LEECH); (5) Echiuroidea.
The facts just referred to suggest further comparisons between the Hirudinea and Eudrilidae.
They are divisible into the Haplodrili or Archiannelida, the Polychaeta containing the marine worms, the Oligochaeta or terrestrial and fresh-water annelids (see Earthworm), the Hirudinea or leeches (see Leech), and a small group of parasitic worms, the 11-Tyzostomida (q.v.).