Their relations to Phoronis are doubtful (see Phoronidea).
In spite of the criticisms which have been made on the conclusion that Phoronis is allied to the Pterobranchia, it is thus possible that the view is a sound one, and that the Phoronidea should take their place, with the Enteropneusta and the Pterobranchia, as an order of the Hemichordata.
It will be noticed that the lophophore of Phoronis is, on this assumption, a derivative of the collar just as it is in the Pterobranchia.
If the Phylactolaemata were evolved from the type of structure represented by Phoronis or the Pterobranchia, the Gymnolaen ata should be a further modification of this type, and the comparative study of the embryology of the.two orders would appear to be meaningless.
The development of Phoronis was supposed by Caldwell (2) to furnish the explanation of the relations of the surfaces in Brachiopoda, Polyzoa and perhaps the Sipunculoid Gephyrea, in which the ontogenetic evidence is less clear.
These associations of individuals can hardly be the result of the metamorphosis of a corresponding number of larvae, but are probably due to a spontaneous fragmentation of the adult animals, each such fragment developing into a complete Phoronis (De Selys-Longchamps).
There is, however, a considerable amount of resemblance between the lophophore of Phoronis australis, with its spirally twisted ends, and that of a typical Brachiopod; nor do the structural details of the adult Brachiopods forbid the view that they may be related to Phoronis.
The epistome of the adult Phoronis cannot well be the proboscis since its cavity is continuous with the lophophoral coelom, and because the praeoral hood of Actinotrocha is entirely lost at the metamorphosis.