Comparing Male & Female Ascaris Worms

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  • 0:00 What is an Ascaris Worm?
  • 0:35 External Anatomy
  • 1:30 Internal Anatomy
  • 2:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashli Wilson

Ashli has a Master's Degree in Biology and has taught biology at different grade levels including college, elementary, and middle school.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the external and internal biological differences between male and female Ascaris worms. This information will help us determine the sex of an Ascaris worm when asked to dissect one in a zoology, biology, or general science course.

What is an Ascaris Worm?

In this lesson, we'll learn about the differences between male and female Ascaris worms; but first, let's learn a little bit about these worms in general. Ascaris is a genus of roundworms that can be found in almost any type of habitat, including saltwater, freshwater, or on land. Ascaris worms can also cause disease when ingested by humans, horses, and pigs. Additionally, Ascaris are dioecious , meaning that there is a separate male and female worm. Since there's a separate male and female worm, there are some key differences between then, both externally and internally.

External Anatomy

Ascaris worms are sexually dimorphic, which means that there are differences in body size, shape, color, and so forth between males and females. For example, the males are shorter in length than the females. Male Ascaris worms range from 15-31 cm in length, with the length of female Ascaris worms ranging from 20-49 cm, with an average length of 30 cm. Also, the males have a smaller diameter than females. Males' diameter is usually 2-4 mm and the females' diameter is 3-6 mm.

Besides size, one of the simplest ways to determine if an Ascaris worm is male or female is the presence or absence of a spicule. _A spicule is a hook-shaped organ located at the end of the male body used during reproduction to hold open the vulva of the female. Let's now discuss the internal sexual organs present in males and females that differentiate them.

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