The evolution of this cavity into a gut is foreshadowed in some Coelentera by the elliptical shape of the aperture, and by the development at its ends of a ciliated channel along which food is swept; we have only to suppose the approximation of the sides of the ellipse and their eventual fusion, to complete the transformation of the radially symmetrical Coelenterate into a bilaterally symmetrical Coelomate with mouth and anus at opposite ends of the long axis.
Polypi (including the Coelentera of later authorities and the Polyzoa).
In the Coelentera the ectoderm and endoderm are set apart from one another at a very early period in the life-history; generally either by delamination or invagination, processes described in the article Embryology.
The Coelentera may thus be briefly defined as Metazoa which exhibit two embryonic cell-layers only, - the ectoderm and endoderm, - their body-cavities being referable to a single cavity or coelenteron in the endoderm.
The Ctenophora are so aberrant in structure that it has been proposed to separate them from the Coelentera altogether: they are, however, theoretically deducible from an ancestor common to other Coelentera, but their extreme specialization precludes the idea of any close relationship with the rest.
From the more complex colonial Protozoa the Coelentera are readily separated by their possession of two distinct sets of cells, with diverse functions, arranged in two definite layers, - a condition found in no Protozoan.
Of these latter, two grades were further distinguished by Lankester - those which remain possessed of a single archenteric cavity and of two primary cell-layers (the Coelentera or Diploblastica), and those which by nipping off the archenteron give rise to two cavities, the coelom or body-cavity and the metenteron or gut (Coelomata or Triploblastica).
For the Coelentera thus restricted, the term Enterocoela, in contrast to Coelomocoela (the old Coelomata), was suggested by E.