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Caenorhabditis elegans is a free-living, transparent nematode (roundworm), about 1 mm in length, that lives in temperate soil environments. It is the type species of its genus.
The name is a blend of the Greek caeno- (recent), rhabditis (rod-like) and Latin elegans (elegant). In 1900, Maupas initially named it Rhabditides elegans, Osche placed it in the subgenus Caenorhabditis in 1952, and in 1955, Dougherty raised Caenorhabditis to the status of genus.