Ernst Haeckel, Adolf Giltsch
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Heliactis. / Actiniae. Seeanemonen.

Lithograph by Ernst Haeckel and Adolf Giltsch

Plate 49 from Kunstformen der Natur.
This is one of the 100 pop science biology illustrations that were published from 1899 – 1904 in Leipzig by Ernst Haeckel through Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts.

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Translation of the original German introduction by Ernst Haeckel:

Phylum of Cnidaria (Nesseltiere); - subclass of Anthozoa (Korallen); - legion of Zoantharia (Sternkorallen); - order of Hexacoralla (sechsstrahlige Sternkorallen); - suborder of Actiniae or Actiniaria (Seeanemonen, Fleischkorallen).
Actiniae or Actiniaria (sea anemone or ‘flesh-coral’) are distinguished from the other Zoantharia by the complete absence of internal limescale deposits forming a solid skeleton in Actiniae and Actiniaria (cf. plate 9, Hexacoralla; plate 29, Tetracoralla). In the case of Actiniae the entire body of the individual coral lives - almost always - isolated, rarely forms colonies, is soft, muscular and to a high degree capable of expanding and contracting, thus capable of changing shape in multiple ways (cf. fig. 1a, 1b and 7, 12a and 12b). Most sea anemones are not grown onto the ocean floor, as it is the case in the majority of other corals, but attach themselves with the help of a ‘foot disc’; they can thus slowly change their place. The cylindrical body, the broader base of which forms the ‘foot disc’, can be elongated (fig. 3 and 12b) and strongly constricted (fig. 9 and 12a). The upper part of the shaft constitutes the most flexible ‘mouth disc’ with the mouth opening in the centre; it leads to a muscular ‘pharynx tube’ that opens at the base into the stomach. In spite of its tender flower shape and apparent modesty the soft Actiniae are predacious animals, eagerly seizing flesh and other food with their tentacles, leading it to the mouth and digesting it easily. Tentacles in huge number that ornament the rim of the ‘mouth disc’ are thus used not only as sensitive antennae but also as strong ‘capturing arms’. The movements of flower-like Actiniae as well as the decoration that their tender forms and marvelous colours offer are most attractive; they are therefore favorites of the visitors to modern aquaria.

Translation by VR Translators Bangalore

We've scanned the original lithography at 1200dpi on the Epson A3 scanner of A3 scanner huren. You can download a 400dpi JPEG here.