Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

bears sessile hydrothecae, containing hydranths each with a single tentacle, and numerous nematophores. See W. B. Spencer [53].

11. Dendrograptidae, containing fossil (Silurian) genera, such as Dendrograptus and Thamnograptus, of doubtful affinities.

EB1911 Hydromedusae - calcareous corallum Millepora nodosa.jpg

Fig. 60.—Portion of the calcareous corallum of Millepora nodosa, showing the cyclical arrangement of the pores occupied by the “persons” or hydranths. About twice the natural size. (From Moseley.)

Order III. Hydrocorallinae.—Metagenetic colony-forming Hydromedusae, in which the polyp-colony forms a massive, calcareous corallum into which the polyps can be retracted; polyp-individuals always of two kinds, gastrozoids and dactylozoids; gonosome either free medusae or sessile gonophores. The trophosome consists of a mass of coenosarcal tubes anastomosing in all planes. The interspaces between the tubes are filled up by a solid mass of lime, consisting chiefly of calcium carbonate, which replaces the chitinous perisarc of ordinary hydroids and forms a stony corallum or coenosteum (fig. 60). The surface of the coenosteum is covered by a layer of common ectoderm, containing large nematocysts, and is perforated by pores of two kinds, gastropores and dactylopores, giving exit to gastrozoids and dactylozoids respectively, which are lodged in vertical pore-canals of wider calibre than the coenosarcal canals of the general network. The coenosteum increases in size by new growth at the surface; and in the deeper, older portions of massive forms the tissues die off after a certain time, only the superficial region retaining its vitality down to a certain depth. The living tissues at the surface are cut off from the underlying dead portions by horizontal partitions termed tabulae, which are formed successively as the coenosteum increases in age and size. If the coenosteum of Millepora be broken across, each pore-canal (perhaps better termed a polyp-canal) is seen to be interrupted by a series of transverse partitions, representing successive periods of growth with separation from the underlying dead portions.

EB1911 Hydromedusae - Millepora showing five dactylozooids surrounding a central gastrozooid.jpg

Fig. 61.—Enlarged view of the surface of a living Millepora, showing five dactylozooids surrounding a central gastrozooid. (From Moseley.)

Besides the wider vertical pore-canals and the narrower, irregular coenosarcal canals, the coenosteum may contain, in its superficial portion, chambers or ampullae, in which the reproductive zoids (medusae or gonophores) are budded from the coenosarc.

The gastropores and dactylopores are arranged in various ways at the surface, a common pattern being the formation of a cyclosystem (fig. 60), in which a central gastrozoid is surrounded by a ring of dactylozoids (fig. 61). In such a system the dactylopores may be confluent with the gastropore, so that the entire cyclosystem presents itself as a single aperture subdivided by radiating partitions, thus having a superficial resemblance to a madreporarian coral with its radiating septa (figs. 62 and 63).

EB1911 Hydromedusae - development of the cyclosystems of the Stylasteridae.jpg

Fig. 62.—Diagrams illustrating the successive stages in the development of the cyclosystems of the Stylasteridae. (After Moseley.)

1, Sporadopora dichotoma.
2, 3, Allopora nobilis.
4, Allopora profunda.
5, Allopora miniacea.
6, Astylus subviridis.
7, Distichopora coccinea.
s, Style.
dp Dactylopore.
gp, Gastropore.
b, In fig. 6, inner horseshoe-shaped mouth of gastropore.

The gastrozoids usually bear short capitate tentacles, four, six or twelve in number; but in Astylus (fig. 63) they have no tentacles. The dactylozoids have no mouth; in Milleporidae they have short capitate tentacles, but lack tentacles in Stylasteridae.

The gonosome consists of free medusae in Milleporidae, which are budded from the apex of a dactylozoid in Millepora murrayi, but in other species from the coenosarcal canals. The medusae are produced by direct budding, without an entocodon in the bud. They are liberated in a mature condition, and probably live but a short time, merely sufficient to spread the species. The manubrium bearing the gonads is mouthless, and the umbrella is without tentacles, sense-organs, velum or radial canals. In the Stylasteridae sessile gonophores are formed, always by budding from the coenosarc. In Distichopora the gonophores have radial canals, but in other genera they are sporosacs with no trace of medusoid structure.

EB1911 Hydromedusae - corallum of Astylus subviridis.jpg

Fig. 63.—Portion of the corallum of Astylus subviridis (one of the Stylasteridae), showing cyclosystems placed at intervals on the branches, each with a central gastropore and zone of slit-like dactylopores. (After Moseley.)

Classification.—Two families are known:—

1. Milleporidae.—Coenosteum massive, irregular in form; pores scattered irregularly or in cyclosystems, without styles, with transverse tabulae; free medusae. A single genus, Millepora (figs. 60, 61).

2. Stylasteridae.—Coenosteum arborescent, sometimes fanlike, with pores only on one face, or on the lateral margins of the branches; gastropores with tabulae only in two genera, but with (except in Astylus) a style, i.e. a conical, thorn-like projection from the base of the pore, sometimes found also in dactylopores; sessile gonophores. Sporadopora has the pores scattered irregularly. Distichopora has the pores arranged in rows. Stylaster has cyclosystems. In Allopora the cyclostems resemble the calyces of Anthozoan corals. In Cryptohelia the cyclosystem is covered by a cap or operculum. In Astylus (fig. 63) styles are absent.

Affinities of the Hydrocorallinae.—There can be no doubt that the forms comprised in this order bear a close relationship to the Hydroidea, especially the sub-order Gymnoblastea, with which they should perhaps be classed in a natural classification. A hydrocoralline may be regarded as a form of hydroid colony in which the coenosarc forms a felt-work ramifying in all planes, and in which the chitinous perisarc is replaced by a massive calcareous skeleton. So far as the trophosome is concerned, the step from an encrusting