RADIATA, a term introduced by Cuvier in 1812 to denote the lowest of his four great animal groups or " embranchements. " He defined them as possessing radial instead of bilateral symmetry, and as apparently destitute of nervous system and sense organs, as having the circulatory system rudimentary or absent, and the respiratory organs on or coextensive with the surface of the body; he included under ' this title and definition five classes, Echinodermata, Acalepha, Entozoa, Polypi and Infusoria. Lamarck (Hist. not. d. Anim. s. Vertebres) also used the term, as when he spoke of the Medusae as radiata medusaria el anomala; but he preferred the term Radiaria, under which he included Echinodermata and Medusae. Cuvier's term in its wide extension, however, passed into general use; but, as the anatomy of the different forms became more fully known, the difficulty of including them under the common designation made itself increasingly obvious. Milne-Edwards removed the Polyzoa; the group was soon further thinned by the exclusion of the Protozoa on the one hand and the Entozoa on the other; while in 1848 Leuckart and Frey clearly distinguished the Coelenterata from the Echinodermata as a separate sub-kingdom, thus condemning the usage by which the term still continued to be applied to these two groups at least. In 1855, however, Owen included under Lamarck's term Radiaria the Echinodermata, Anthozoa, Acalepha and Hydrozoa, while Agassiz also clung to the term Radiata as including Echinodermata, Acalepha and Polypi, regarding their separation into Coelenterata and Echinodermata as " an exaggeration of their anatomical differences " (Essay on Classification, London, 1859). These attempts, however, to perpetuate the usage were finally discredited by Huxley's important Lectures on Comparative Anatomy (1864), in which the term was finally abolished, and the " radiate mob " finally distributed among the Echinodermata, Polyzoa, Vermes. (Platyhelminthes), Coelenterata and Protozoa.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)