Members of the following marine annelid families are found almost exclusively in the interstitial environment and are highly adapted to move between sand grains, relying mostly on ciliary locomotion: Apharyngtidae n. fam., Dinophilidae, Diurodrilidae, Nerillidae, Lobatocerebridae, Parergodrilidae, Polygordiidae, Protodrilidae, Protodriloididae, Psammodrilidae and Saccocirridae. This article provides a review of the evolution, systematics, and diversity of these families, with the exception of Parergodrilidae, which was detailed in the review of Orbiniida by Meca, Zhadan, and Struck within this Special Issue. While several of the discussed families have previously only been known by a few described species, recent surveys inclusive of molecular approaches have increased the number of species, showing that all of the aforementioned families exhibit a high degree of cryptic diversity shadowed by a limited number of recognizable morphological traits. This is a challenge for studies of the evolution, taxonomy, and diversity of interstitial families as well as for their identification and incorporation into ecological surveys. By compiling a comprehensive and updated review on these interstitial families, we hope to promote new studies on their intriguing evolutionary histories, adapted life forms and high and hidden diversity.
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