Functional morphology of the podia and ambulacral grooves of the comatulid crinoid Antedon bifida (Echinodermata)
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Feeding units — viz. triplets of unequally-sized podia associated with protective lappets — occur all along the pinnules of adult Antedon bifida (Pennant). Small food particles are trapped by direct mucus impingement to the wall of primary and secondary podia (there are no mucus net or mucus thread helping in this process). Large particles are caught by primary and secondary podia which partly curl over them. Small particles accumulate on the collecting podia before being transferred to the groove, while large particles are transferred one by one. Transfer of particles to the groove occurs by wiping the collecting podia on the ciliary tracts against the ciliary current. When active, tertiary podia always paddle against the ciliary current. They serve in bolus formation (mucus embedding of food particles), but do not participate in bolus compaction or propulsion. Elimination of unwanted particles occur through the action of secondary podia whose movements may disrupt the lappet's palisade, thus creating a sideward current that moves particles from the groove to the outside. Typical podial triplets do not occur along brachial and calycinal grooves. Both brachial and calycinal podia function mostly in guiding and regulating particle flow. The feeding structures of early pentacrinoid larvae of Antedon bifida recall to mind those of pinnules of adult individuals. They consist of twenty-five podia arranged in five radial triplets alternating with five interradial pairs. They are similar to the pinnular feeding structures of adults in that they have both collecting (radial) and paddling (interradial) podia.
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