A typical Siphonophore is a stock or cormus consisting of a number of appendages placed in organic connexion with one another by means of a coenosarc. The coenosarc does not differ in structure from that already described in colonial Hydrozoa.
The coenosarc may consist of a single elongated tube or stolon, forming the stem or axis of the cormus on which, usually, the appendages are arranged in groups termed cormidia; or it may take the form of a compact mass of ramifying, anastomosing tubes, in which case the cormus as a whole has a compact form and cormidia are not distinguishable.
The cormus is always differentiated into two parts; an upper portion termed the nectosome, in which the appendages are locomotor or hydrostatic in function, that is to say, serve for swimming or floating; and a lower portion termed the siphosome, bearing appendages which are nutritive, reproductive or simply protective in function.
Divergent views have been held by different authors both as regards the nature of the cormus as a whole, and as regards the homologies of the different types of appendages borne by it.
A given cormus may bear one or several nectocalyces, and by their contractions they propel the colony slowly along, like so many medusae harnessed together.
In cases where the cormus has no pneumatophore the topmost swimming bell may contain an oil-reservoir or oleocyst.
- Porpita, seen from above, keeps the cormus at or showing the pneumatophore and exnear the surface of the panded palpons.
Never more than one pneumatophore is found in a cormus, and when present it is always situated at the highest point above the swimming bells, if these are present also.
The subsequent development is slightly different according as the future cormus is headed by a pneumatophore (Physophorida, Cystophorida) or by a nectocalyx (Calycophorida).
The many theories that have been put forward as to the interpretation of the cormus and the various parts are set forth and discussed in the treatise of Y.
In the first place the cormus has been regarded as a single individual and its appendages as organs.
Contrasting, in the second place, with the polyorgan theory are the various "polyperson " theories which interpret the Siphonophore cormus as a colony composed of more or fewer individuals in or a', Pneumatocyst.
It is possible to regard the cormus (I) as a colony of medusa-persons, (2) as a colony of polyp-persons, (3) as composed partly of one, partly of the other.
Chun (Hydrozoa ) maintains the older views of Leuckart and Claus, according to which the cormus is to be compared to a floating hydroid colony.