From this first theca originates a second, opening in the same direction, and from the second a third, and so on, in a continuous linear series until the polypary is complete.
A fine cylindrical rod or fibre (the so-called solid axis or virgula) becomes developed in a median groove in the dorsal wall of the polypary, and is sometimes continued distally as a naked rod.
It was formerly supposed that a virgula was present in all the Graptoloidea; hence the term Rhabdophora sometimes employed for the Graptoloidea in general, and rhabdosome for the individual polypary; but while the virgula is present in many (Axonophora) it is absent as such in others (Axonolipa).
In all these families the polypary originates as in Monograptus from a nema-bearing sicula, which invariably opens downwards and gives off only a single bud, such branching as may take place occurring at subsequent stages in the growth of the polypary.
In some species young examples have been met with in which the nema ends above in a small membranous disk, which has been interpreted as an organ of attachment to the underside of floating bodies, probably sea weeds, from which the young polypary hung suspended.