Sea Anemone - Anatomy - Digestive System

Digestive System

A gastrovascular cavity (which functions as a stomach) with a single opening to the outside is both a mouth and anus. Waste and undigested matter is excreted through this opening, which can be described as an incomplete gut. The mouth is typically slit-like in shape, and bears a groove at one or both ends. The groove, termed a siphonophore, is ciliated, and helps to circulate water through the gastrovascular cavity. Some anemones feed on small particles, which are caught with the aid of a mucus secretion and moving currents that are set up by the tentacles. Most sea anemones are predacious, immobilizing their prey with the aid of their nematocysts.

The mouth opens into a flattened pharynx. This consists of an in-folding of the body wall, and is therefore lined by the animal's epidermis. The pharynx typically runs for about two-thirds the length of the body before opening into the gastrovascular cavity that fills the remainder of the body.

The gastrovascular cavity itself is divided into a number of chambers by mesenteries radiating inwards from the body wall. Some of the mesenteries form complete partitions with a free edge at the base of the pharynx, where they connect, but others reach only partway across. The mesenteries are usually found in multiples of twelve, and are symmetrically arranged around the central pharynx. They have stomach lining on both sides, separated by a thin layer of mesoglea, and includes filaments of tissue specialised for secreting digestive enzymes. In some species these filaments extend below the lower margin of the mesentery, hanging free in the gastrovascular cavity as acontial filaments.

Read more about this topic:  Sea Anemone, Anatomy

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