Thus, about 1875, the distinction of Echinoderms from such radiate animals as jelly-fish and corals (see Coelentera), by their possession of a body-cavity ("coelom") distinct from the gut, was fully realized; while their severance from the worms (especially Gephyrea), with which some Echinoderms were long confused, had been necessitated by the recognition in all of a radial symmetry, impressed on the original bilateral symmetry of the larva through the growth of a special division of the coelom, known as the "hydrocoel," and giving rise to a set of water-bearing canals - the watervascular or ambulacral system.
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.
The resemblance of the flooring-plates to the ambulacral ossicles of a starfish is so exact that one can explain it only by supposing similar relations of the water-canals and their branches (podia).
In more typical echinoids the covering-plates alone remained to form the ordinary ambulacral plates, while the flooring-plates disappeared, the canals and other organs remaining as before.
All living Echinoderms have a lacunar, haemal system of diverse origin; this, the ambulacral system, and the coelomic cavities, contain a fluid holding albumen in solution and carrying numerous amoebocytes, which are developed in special lymph-glands and are capable of wandering through all tissues.
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