Nephtys lacks circular body-wall muscles. The chief antagonists of the longitudinal muscles are the dorso-ventral muscles of the intersegmental body-wall. The worm is restrained from widening when either set of muscles contracts by the combined influence of the ligaments, some of the extrinsic parapodial muscles, and possibly, to a limited extent, by the septal muscles. Although the septa are incomplete, they can and do form a barrier to the transmission of coelomic fluid from one segment to the next under certain conditions, particularly during eversion of the proboscis.

Swimming is by undulatory movements of the body but the distal part of the parapodia execute a power-stroke produced chiefly by the contraction of the acicular muscles. It is suspected that the extrinsic parapodial muscles, all of which are inserted in the proximal half of the parapodium, serve to anchor the parapodial wall at the insertion of the acicular muscles and help to provide a rigid point of insertion for them.

Burrowing is a cyclical process involving the violent eversion of the proboscis which makes a cavity in the sand. The worm is prevented from slipping backwards by the grip the widest segments have on the sides of the burrow. The proboscis is retracted and the worm crawls forward into the cavity it has made. The cycle is then repeated.

Nephtys possesses a unique system of elastic ligaments of unusual structure. The anatomy of the system is described. The function of the ligaments appears to be to restrain the body-wall and parapodia from unnecessary and disadvantageous dilatations during changes of body-shape, and to serve as shock-absorbers against the high, transient, fluid pressures in the coelom, which are thought to accompany the impact of the proboscis against the sand when the worm is burrowing. From what is known of its habits, Nephtys is likely to undertake more burrowing than most other polychaetes.

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