A simple plan - Cnidarians and the origins of developmental mechanisms

Eldon E. Ball, David C. Hayward, Robert B. Saint, David John Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Comparisons with cnidarians, long considered to be 'simple' animals, are providing crucial insights into the origins of conserved developmental mechanisms and the nature of the common metazoan ancestor. Traditionally, an extra germ layer and a second axis of body symmetry are the features that distinguish 'higher' Metazoa from lower animals such as cnidarians. Moreover, it was expected that 'lower' animals would have a simple gene set that corresponds to their simple morphology. Now, molecular genetic approaches are blurring the developmental divide between cnidarians and bilateral animals, and cnidarian sequencing projects are showing that the common metazoan ancestor was more genetically complex than was previously assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-577
Number of pages11
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2004


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