Temporal range: Ediacaran – Present
|A moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita|
Radiata is a taxonomic rank that has been used to classify radially symmetric animals. The term Radiata has united several different groupings of animals, some of which do not form a monophyletic group under current views of animal phylogeny. Because of this and problems of homoplasy associated with using body symmetry as a phylogenetic character, the term is used mostly in a historical context.
In the early 19th century, Georges Cuvier united ctenophores and cnidarians in the Radiata. Thomas Cavalier-Smith, in 1983, redefined Radiata as a subkingdom consisting of Myxozoa, Placozoa, Cnidaria and Ctenophora. Lynn Margulis and K. V. Schwartz later redefined Radiata in their Five Kingdom classification, this time including only Cnidaria and Ctenophora. This definition is similar to the historical descriptor coelenterata which has also been proposed as a group encompassing Cnidaria and Ctenophora.
Although radial symmetry is usually given as a defining characteristic in animals that have been classified in this group, there are clear exceptions and qualifications. Echinoderms, for example, exhibit unmistaken bilateral symmetry as larvae. Ctenophores exhibit biradial or rotational symmetry, defined by tentacular and pharyngeal axes, on which two anal canals are located in two diametrically opposed quadrants. Some species within the cnidarian class Anthozoa are bilaterally symmetric (For example, Nematostella vectensis). It has been suggested that bilateral symmetry may have evolved before the split between Cnidaria and Bilateria, and that the radially symmetrical cnidarians have secondarily evolved radial symmetry, meaning the bilaterality in cnidarian species like N. vectensis has a primary origin.
|Wikispecies has information related to: Radiata|
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