phylum coelenterata



Coelenterata is an obsolete long term encompassing two animal phyla, the Ctenophora (comb jellies) and the Cnidaria (coral animals, true jellies, sea anemones, sea pens, and their allies). The taxon name comes from the Greek "koilos" ("hollow"), referring to the hollow body cavity common to these two phyla. They have very simple tissue organization, with only two layers of cells, external and internal.

History of classification

The term coelenterate is no longer recognized as scientifically valid, as the Cnidaria and Ctenophora have placed at equal rank under the Metazoa with the other phyla of animals. Cnidaria means "to sting" A single term encompassing these two phyla but leaving out all others of equal rank would be considered polyphyletic. Nonetheless, the term coelenterate is still used in informal settings to refer to the Cnidaria and Ctenophora.

Complicating the issue is the 1997 work of Lynn Margulis (revising an earlier model by Thomas Cavalier-Smith) that placed the Cnidaria and Ctenophora alone under the Radiata branch of the Eumetazoa subregnum. (The latter refers to all the animals except the sponges, Trichoplax, and the still poorly-understood Mesozoa.) Neither grouping is accepted universally; however, both are commonly encountered in taxonomic literature.


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