A crinoid reduced to its simplest elements consists of three principal portions - (i.) a theca or test enclosing the viscera; (ii.) five arms stretching upwards or outwards from the theca, sometimes single, sometimes branching; (iii.) a stem stretching downwards from the theca and attaching it to the sea-floor (see fig.
As the buds develop the canal system becomes much extended, and calcareous tissue is deposited between the network of canals, the confluent edgezones of mother zooid and bud forming a coenosarc. As the process continues a number of calicles are formed, imbedded in a spongy tissue in which the canals ramify, and it is impossible to say where the theca of one corallite ends and that of another begins.
Each Graptolite represents the common horny or chitinous investment or supporting structure of a colony of zooids, each tooth-like projection marking the position of the sheath or theca of an individual zooid.
The crinoid type was differentiated by the extension of the food-grooves and associated organs along radial outgrowths from the theca itself.
Corals have been divided into A porosa and Perforata, according as the theca and septa are compact and solid, or are perforated by pores containing canals lined by endoderm.
These constituted the arms (brachia), and five definite radial plates of the theca were specialized for their support.
At last a quinqueradiate symmetry influenced the plates of the theca, partly through the development of a plate at the end of each groove (terminal), partly through plates at the aboral pole of the theca (basals and infrabasals) arising in response to mechanical pressure, but soon intimately connected with the cords of an aboral nervous system.
In others the peripheral ends of the septa are united only by bars or trabeculae, so that the theca is perforate, and in many such perforate corals the septa themselves are pierced by numerous perforations.
Such characters are found in any primitive, sedentary group. More peculiarly Echinoderm features, in which the Pelmatozoan nature is manifest, are the enclosing of the viscera in a calcified and plated theca, for protection against those enemies from which a fixed animal cannot flee; the development, at the aboral pole of this theca, of a motor nerve-centre giving off branches to the stroma connecting the various plates of the theca and of its brachial, anal, and columnar extensions, and thus coordinating the movements of the whole skeleton; the absence of suckers from the podia, which, when present, are respiratory, not locomotor, in function.
An aborally-placed motor nerve-centre gives off branches to the stroma connecting the various plates of the theca and of its brachial, anal and columnar extensions, and thus co-ordinates the movements of the whole skeleton.