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.