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Cnidaria vs. Ctenophora: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 16, 2023
Cnidaria includes animals like jellyfish and corals with stinging cells, while Ctenophora comprises comb jellies with cilia and no stinging cells.

Key Differences

Cnidaria is a diverse phylum encompassing over 10,000 species, including jellyfish, corals, and sea anemones. Ctenophora, on the other hand, contains fewer species, primarily known as comb jellies.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023
While both cnidaria and ctenophora are gelatinous and can resemble each other, they have distinct differences. Cnidaria possesses specialized cells called cnidocytes that release venom, while ctenophora lacks these stinging cells.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023
Ctenophora is characterized by rows of ciliary combs, which they use for movement. Cnidaria typically move through muscular contraction or drifting, although some species have limited swimming abilities.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023
Reproduction in cnidaria can be both asexual and sexual, and many have complex life cycles with polyp and medusa stages. Ctenophora primarily reproduces sexually, and their lifecycle is more direct than cnidarians.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023
The evolutionary relationship between cnidaria and ctenophora is debated. Although they share similarities, they also have fundamental differences in their nervous system and body organization.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Stinging Cells

Yes (cnidocytes)
No
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Movement Mechanism

Muscular contraction
Ciliary combs
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Primary Representatives

Jellyfish, Corals, Sea anemones
Comb jellies
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Evolutionary Relation

Ancient lineage
Debated relationship
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Cnidaria and Ctenophora Definitions

Cnidaria

A phylum of aquatic animals containing stinging cells.
Jellyfish are the most recognized members of the cnidaria phylum.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023
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Ctenophora

A phylum of gelatinous animals known as comb jellies.
The beautiful bioluminescence of ctenophora makes them a marvel in deep-sea explorations.
Huma Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Cnidaria

Animals with a life cycle that often includes both polyp and medusa stages.
The life stages of many cnidaria are complex, transitioning from polyps to medusas.
Janet White
Oct 16, 2023

Ctenophora

Characterized by rows of ciliary combs used for movement.
The rows of cilia on ctenophora shimmer and reflect light as they move.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Cnidaria

Characterized by radial symmetry and a single body cavity.
Corals, belonging to cnidaria, have radial symmetry making them look similar from all angles.
Harlon Moss
Oct 16, 2023

Ctenophora

Primarily carnivorous, feeding on small organisms.
Ctenophora use their tentacles to capture and feed on tiny marine creatures.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Cnidaria

Known for their cnidocytes or stinging cells.
The painful sting of a jellyfish is due to the cnidocytes present in cnidaria.
Huma Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Ctenophora

Possess a simple and direct life cycle.
The lifecycle of ctenophora is straightforward, with little variation between species.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Cnidaria

Primarily marine organisms with some freshwater species.
While most cnidaria are marine, a few species can be found in freshwater habitats.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Ctenophora

Lacks specialized stinging cells.
Unlike jellyfish, touching ctenophora typically doesn't result in a sting.
Harlon Moss
Oct 16, 2023

Cnidaria

Cnidarian
Sumera Saeed
Apr 04, 2020

Ctenophora

A phylum of invertebrates, commonly ellipsoidal in shape, swimming by means of eight longitudinal rows of paddles. They are commonly called the comb jellies, because the separate paddles somewhat resemble combs. This phylum was formerly classified as a subdivision (class) within the Cœlenterata.
Sumera Saeed
Apr 04, 2020

Cnidaria

A comprehensive group equivalent to the true Cœlenterata, i. e., exclusive of the sponges. They are so named from presence of stinging cells (cnidae) in the tissues. See Coelenterata.
Sumera Saeed
Apr 04, 2020

Ctenophora

Comb jellies; sea acorns; a small phylum formerly considered a class of Coelenterata
Sumera Saeed
Apr 04, 2020

Cnidaria

Hydras; polyps; jellyfishes; sea anemones; corals
Sumera Saeed
Apr 04, 2020

FAQs

Are comb jellies bioluminescent?

Many ctenophora species exhibit bioluminescence, producing light in dark waters.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Do all cnidaria sting?

Most cnidaria have stinging cells, but not all stings are harmful to humans.
Huma Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Do cnidaria have brains?

No, cnidaria have a nerve net but lack a centralized brain.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Are cnidaria and ctenophora closely related?

While they share similarities, their evolutionary relationship is a topic of debate.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Are there any known symbiotic relationships involving ctenophora?

While cnidaria have well-known symbioses (like with zooxanthellae), ctenophora's symbiotic relationships are less documented.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

How do cnidaria protect themselves?

Their stinging cells, or cnidocytes, deter many predators.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

How do ctenophora move?

They use rows of ciliary combs for movement.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Is it safe to touch a comb jelly?

Generally, yes. Ctenophora do not possess stinging cells like many cnidarians.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Which is more diverse: cnidaria or ctenophora?

Cnidaria is more diverse with over 10,000 species compared to the fewer species of ctenophora.
Janet White
Oct 16, 2023

Can cnidaria regenerate lost body parts?

Many cnidarians have remarkable regenerative abilities, allowing them to recover lost parts.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

How do ctenophora capture their prey?

They use tentacles coated with sticky cells called colloblasts.
Harlon Moss
Oct 16, 2023

What are the primary habitats of cnidaria?

Cnidaria are primarily marine, but some species inhabit freshwater.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Are corals considered cnidaria?

Yes, corals belong to the cnidaria phylum.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Are ctenophora found in freshwater?

No, ctenophora are exclusively marine animals.
Harlon Moss
Oct 16, 2023

Do ctenophora have eyes?

Some ctenophora have simple eyes or photoreceptor cells to detect light.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Can humans consume ctenophora?

While not commonly consumed, some cultures eat ctenophora, often as a delicacy.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

What do ctenophora eat?

Ctenophora are primarily carnivorous, feeding on small marine organisms.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

How do cnidaria reproduce?

Cnidaria can reproduce both sexually and asexually, often with complex life cycles.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

What's the significance of cnidaria in marine ecosystems?

Cnidaria play vital roles, from being prey for other animals to forming coral reefs that support diverse life.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Do ctenophora have tentacles?

Some species of ctenophora have tentacles, but they are different from cnidarian tentacles.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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