|mesozoan (měz'ə-zō'ən) Pronunciation Key
Any of a variety of very small parasitic marine animals of the group Mesozoa. Mesozoans resemble worms and have simple bodies divided into two layers. The outer layer is covered with cilia, and there are no internal organs. The taxonomic status of the Mesozoa is unclear, as some scientists believe the mesozoans to be an ancient and primitive group and others regard them as degenerate forms of more complex animals.
(phylum Mesozoa), any of approximately 50 species of small, ciliated, multicellular animals that are parasitic in marine invertebrates. These wormlike organisms lack digestive, respiratory, nervous, and excretory systems; their bodies consist of two layers of as few as 20 to 30 cells each. Both sexual and asexual reproduction occur. Their relationship to other phyla is obscure as it is not known whether their simple structure is primitive or, as a result of their parasitic existence, degenerate (i.e., changed gradually into a lower form). Some authorities, however, have suggested a link with the phylum Platyhelminthes, a group of flatworms.
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