National Of The National, Vol. 8: Seventh Memoir West Indian Madreporarian Polyps (Classic Reprint).pdf
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Publisher: Forgotten Books (27 Sept. 2015)
By: J. E. Duerden (Author)
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The insufficiency of our knowledge of the morphology of the soft parts of the Madreporarian corals has been commented upon by nearly all writers on the Anthozoa. Such a want at first seems remarkable, when we consider for how long and how fully the hard parts have been known, both to the zoologist and the paheontologist, and also the great abundance and wide distribution of living corals. When, however, the geographical limitations of the greater number of recent corals are taken into account, the difficulty of fully observing the polyps when alive, and more especially of preserving them and of carrying out their anatomical study, the deficiency can be in some measure understood. The investigations of a number of workers have already afforded an insight into the general structure of Madreporarian polyps, especially of the simple forms: but these are as yet insufficient to enable relationships of a broad systematic character to be established. Practically all that has been achieved along such lines is the demonstration that coral polyps are constructed on the same plan as the polyps of the principal group of the Actiniaria, the Hexactinire: in other words, that the mesenteries and other organs are arranged in a cyclical hexamerous manner.
Many writers have contributed descriptions and figures of living coral polyps: vet so few differences are determinable from external characters alone that Madreporarian morpholog}' has been but little advanced thereby. F or admirable reproductions of the external characters of living corals the works of Quoy and Gaimard (1S30), Dana (1S-AG), Klunzinger (1877), and the elaborate work of Saville Kent (1893), The Great Barrier Reef of Australia, should be consulted. In a recent contribution Prof. H. de Lacaze-Duthiers (1891) has presented a very full account of the corals met with in the Mediterranean, and the drawings of the living polyps are among the finest we possess. Undoubtedly the best illustrations of West Indian shallow-water corals, mainly limited, however, to the skeleton, are those accompanying the Report on the Florida Reefs, by Louis Agassiz (1880). In 'The Stony Corals of the Porto Rican Waters,' Mr. Vaughan has given thirty-eight photographic reproductions of the more familiar West Indian species (1901a), followed shortly by a more complete series from Prof. A. E. Verrill (1901).
Of the older writers on coral structure, Milne Edwards and Haime (1857), in their classic 'Histoire Naturelle des Coralliaires,' have given all that was then possible with the limited means of research available. It is only within the last two decades that any serious attempt has been made to advance our knowledge of the anatomical structure of Madreporarian polyps. The late Prof. H. N. Moseley, in 1882, proved that Seriatopora and Pocillopova are true Madreporaria, and in his 'Challenger' Report on the Deep-Sea Madreporaria made many other additions to the morphology of the group (1881).
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