The prosicular stage of Rhabdopleura (Pterobranchia: Hemichordata)



After settling, the larva of Rhabdopleura surrounds itself with a collagenous dome. Later, the zooid breaks through the wall of the dome and builds the horizontal tube part of the coenecium on to the dome.

The dome is a layered structure, unknown in other parts of the coenecium. whereas the horizontal tube is made up of rings in the classical manner of the adult coenecium. The construction of these two parts is different. The techniques used to reinforce the horizontal tube show a marked similarity to the cortical bandages recently described in the fossil graptolites, and give support to the claim that they are ancestral to Rhabdopleura. There are two sorts of early horizontal tube, one is a straight tube, and the other is longer and coiled. The hole in the dome through which the zooid emerges to build the horizontal tube is probably produced by a chemical boring of the zooid, and supports the hypothesis that the zooids can bore holes in shells and corals.