It is spheroidal, with the mouth and anus at opposite poles; there are five ambulacra, and the ambulacral plates are large, simple and alternating, each being pierced by two podial pores which lie in a small oval depression; the ambulacrals next the mouth form a closed ring of ten plates; the interambulacrals lie in single columns between the ambulacra, and are separated from the mouth-area by the proximal ambulacrals just mentioned, and sometimes by the second set of ambulacrals also; the ambulacra end in the five oculars or terminals, which meet in a ring around the anal area and have no podial pores, but one of them serves as a madreporite; within this ring is a star-shaped area filled with minute irregular plates, none of which can safely be selected as the homologues of the so-called basals or genitals of later forms; within the ring of ambulacrals around the mouth are five somewhat pointed plates, which Jaekel regards as teeth, but which can scarcely be homologous with the interradially placed teeth of later echinoids, since they are radial in position; small spines are present, especially around the podial pores.
Spencer to have had in its ambulacra an inner as well as an outer series of plates.
If this be correct, the only change from Edrioaster, as regards the ambulacra, was that in Palaeodiscus the covering-plates could no longer open, but closed permanently over the whole groove, while the podia issued through slits between them.
- Diagrammatic sections across the ambulacra of A, C, Pelmatozoa, and B, D, Eleutherozoa, placed in the same position for comparison.
All living, and most extinct, Echinoderms show the following features, almost certainly due to an ancestral pelmatozoic stage: - An incomplete radial symmetry, of which five is usually the dominant number, is superimposed on the secondary bilateralism, owing to the outgrowth from the mouth region of one unpaired and two paired ciliated grooves; these have a floor of nervous epithelium, and are accompanied by subjacent radial canals from the water-ring, giving off lateral podia and thus forming ambulacra, and by a perihaemal system of canals apparently growing out from coelomic cavities.
- Pelmatozoa in which radial polymeric symmetry of the theca is developed either not at all or not in complete correlation with the radial symmetry of the ambulacra (such as obtains in Blastoidea and Crinoidea); in which extensions of the food-grooves are exothecal or epithecal or both combined, but neither endothecal nor pierced by podia (as in some Edrioasteroidea).
The stereom of the radials and deltoids on each side of the ambulacra is thrown into folds, running across the radio-deltoid FIG.
- Pelmatozoa in which the theca is composed of an indefinite number of irregular plates, some of which are variously differentiated in different genera; with no subvective skeletal appendages, but with central mouth, from which there radiate through the theca five unbranched ambulacra, composed of a double series of alternating plates (covering-plates), sometimes supported by an outer series of larger alternating plates (sideplates or flooring-plates).
12, D); the ambulacra thus formed are continuous from the peristome to the apical system of plates; the hydropore is connected with a definite plate of that system, and thus marks a secondary bilateral symmetry.