The generic characters are based upon definite modifications of form which affect the entire facies of the animals, while the specific diagnoses depend upon minor characters, such as the number of myotomes or muscle-segments.
(Slightly altered from Kirkaldy.) rm and lm, Right and left metapleur; at, atriopore; an, anus; e, " eyespot" at anterior end of neurochord projecting beyond the myotomes (my); n, notochord; rgo, gonads of right side only showing through by transparency; go 20, the last gonad; dfr, dorsal fin with fin chambers and fin rays; vfc, ventral fin chambers.
A, Oral tentacles (28 to 32 in full-grown animals, 20 to 24 in half-grown specimens); B, praeoral hood or praeoral epipleur; C, plicated ventral surface of atrial chamber; D l, D 17, D26, gonads, twenty-six pairs, coincident with myotomes io to 36; E, metapleur or lateral ridge on atrial epipleur; F, atripore, coincident with myotome 36; G', G ' 5, G34, double ventral fin rays, extending from myotomes 37 to 52, but having no numerical relation to them; H, position of anus, between myotomes 51 and 52; I, notochord, projecting beyond myotomes; K7, K27, K62, myotomes or muscular segments of body-wall, 62 in number; L '°°, L230, L253, dorsal fin rays, about 250 in number, the hard substance of the ray being absent at the extreme ends of the body (these have no constant numerical relation to the myomeres); M, notochord as seen through the transparent myotomes, the thin double-lined spaces being the connective-tissue septa and the broader spaces the muscular tissue of the myotomes; N, position of brown funnel of left side (atrio-coelomic canal); 0, nerve tube resting on notochord.
The Peruvian species, Branchiostoma elongatum, with nearly eighty myotomes, cannot at present be assigned to its proper subgenus.
The main musculature can be seen through the thin skin to be divided into about sixty pairs of muscle-segments (myotomes) by means of comma-shaped dissepiments, the myocommas, which stretch between the skin and the central skeletal axis of the body.
These myotomes enable it to swim rapidly with characteristic serpentine undulations of the body, the movements being effected by the alternate contraction and relaxation of the longitudinal muscles on both sides.
Apparently correlated with this peculiar locomotion is the anatomical fact of the alteration of the myotomes on the two sides.
Symmetrical at their first appearance in the embryo, the somites (from which the myotomes are derived) early undergo a certain distortion, the effect of which is to carry the somites of the left side forwards through the length of one half-segment.
Corresponding with each pair of myotomes, and subject to the same alternation, two pairs of spinal nerves arise from the neurochord, namely, a right and left pair of compact dorsal sensory roots without ganglionic enlargement, and a right and left pair of ventral motor roots composed of loose fibres issuing separately from the neurochord and passing directly to their termination on the muscle-plates of the myotomes.
==Reproductive System== The sexes are separate, and the male or female gonads, which are exactly similar in outward appearance, occur as a series of gonadic pouches projecting into the atrial cavity at the base of the myotomes (figs.