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Temporal range: Ediacaran – Present
Jean Louis Agassiz 1870.jpg
Louis Agassiz in 1870, with drawings of animals then considered Radiates
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Eumetazoa
(unranked): Radiata

Radiata or Radiates 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,[1] the term is used mostly in a historical context.

In the early 19th century, Georges Cuvier united ctenophores and cnidarians in the Radiata.[2] Thomas Cavalier-Smith, in 1983, redefined Radiata as a subkingdom consisting of Myxozoa, Placozoa, Cnidaria and Ctenophora.[3] Lynn Margulis and K. V. Schwartz later redefined Radiata in their Five Kingdom classification, this time including only Cnidaria and Ctenophora.[4] This definition is similar to the historical descriptor Coelenterata, which has also been proposed as a group encompassing Cnidaria and Ctenophora.[5][6]

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.[7] 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.[8]


  1. ^ Hadzi, J. (1963). The Evolution of the Metazoa. New York, NY, USA: The Macmillan Company. pp. 56–57. ISBN 0080100791. 
  2. ^ Cuvier, Georges (1817). Le Règne Animal Distribué Selon son Organisation, pour Servir de Base à l’Histoire Naturelle des Animaux et d’Introduction à l'Anatomie Comparée. Paris: Déterville. 
  3. ^ Cavalier-Smith, Thomas (1983). A 6-kingdom classification and a unified phylogeny. in Endocytobiology II. Walter De Gruyter Inc. pp. 1027–1034. ISBN 3110086603. 
  4. ^ Margulis, Lynn (1988). Five Kingdoms: An illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth. New York: W. H. Freeman. ISBN 0716730278. 
  5. ^ Philippe, Hervé; Derelle, Romain; Lopez, Philippe; Pick, Kerstin; Borchiellini, Carole; Boury-Esnault, Nicole; Vacelet, Jean; Renard, Emmanuelle; Houliston, Evelyn; Quéinnec, Eric; Da Silva, Corinne; Wincker, Patrick; Le Guyader, Hervé; Leys, Sally; Jackson, Daniel J.; Schreiber, Fabian; Erpenbeck, Dirk; Morgenstern, Burkhard; Wörheide, Gert; Manuel, Michaël (April 2009). "Phylogenomics Revives Traditional Views on Deep Animal Relationships". Current Biology. 19 (8): 706–712. PMID 19345102. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.02.052. 
  6. ^ Dunn, Casey W.; Leys, Sally P.; Haddock, Steven H.D. (May 2015). "The hidden biology of sponges and ctenophores". Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 30 (5): 282–291. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2015.03.003. 
  7. ^ Martindale, Mark; Finnerty, J.R.; Henry, J.Q. (September 2002). "The Radiata and the evolutionary origins of the bilaterian body plan". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 24 (3): 358–365. doi:10.1016/s1055-7903(02)00208-7. 
  8. ^ Finnerty, J.R.; Pang, K.; Burton, P.; Paulson, D.; Martindale, M.Q. (28 May 2004). "Origins of bilateral symmetry: Hox and dpp expression in a sea anemone". Science. 304 (5675): 1335–1337. PMID 15131263. doi:10.1126/science.1091946.