Until recently, it was thought that all species lived in the sediment on the seabed, subsisting as deposit feeders or suspension feeders. However, the early 21st century has seen the description of a new family, the Torquaratoridae, evidently limited to the deep sea, in which most of the species crawl on the surface of the ocean bottom and alternatively rise into the water column, evidently to drift to new foraging sites. It is assumed that the ancestors of acorn worms used to live in tubes like their relatives Pterobranchia, but that they eventually started to live a safer and more sheltered existence in sediment burrows instead. The body length normally range from 2 centimetres (0.79 in) to 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) (Balanoglossus gigas), but one species, Meioglossus psammophilus, only reach 0.6 millimetres (0.024 in). Due to secretions containing elements like iodine, the animals have an iodoform-like smell.
^Smith, KL; Holland, ND; Ruhl, HA (July 2005). "Enteropneust production of spiral fecal trails on the deep-sea floor observed with time-lapse photography". Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. 52 (7): 1228–1240. Bibcode:2005DSRII..52.1228S. doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2005.02.004.
^Holland ND, Jones WJ, Elena J, Ruhl HA, Smith KL (2009) A new deep-sea species of epibenthic acorn worm (Hemichordata, Enteropneusta). Zoosystema 31: 333—346.
^Osborn KL, Kuhnz LA, Priede IG, Urata M, Gebruk AV, and Holland ND (2012) Diversication of acorn worms (Hemichordata, Enteropneusta) revealed in the deep sea. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 279: 1646—1654.
^Priede IG, Osborn KJ, Gebruk AV, Jones D, Shale D, Rogacheva A, Holland ND (2012) Observations on torquaratorid acorn worms (Hemichordata, Enteropneusta) from the North Atlantic with descriptions of a new genus and three new species. Invert. Biol. 131: 244-257.