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  • Ctenophora is a phylum of animals that live in marine waters worldwide. Their most distinctive feature is the "combs", groups of cilia they use for swimming, and they are the largest animals that swim by means of cilia – adults of various species range from a few millimeters to 1.5 m in size. Like cnidarians, their bodies consist of a mass of jelly, with one layer of cells on the outside and another lining the internal cavity. In ctenophores, these layers are two cells deep, while those in cnidarians are only one cell deep. Ctenophores also resemble cnidarians in having a decentralized nerve net rather than a brain. Some authors combined ctenophores and cnidarians in one phylum, Coelenterata, as both groups rely on water flow through the body cavity for both digestion and respiration. Increasing awareness of the differences persuaded more recent authors to classify them in separate phyla. Almost all ctenophores are predators, taking prey ranging from microscopic larvae and rotifers to the adults of small crustaceans; the exceptions are juveniles of two species, which live as parasites on the salps on which adults of their species feed. In favorable circumstances, ctenophores can eat ten times their own weight in a day. Only 100–150 species have been validated, and possibly another 25 have not been fully described and named. The textbook examples are cydippids with egg-shaped bodies and a pair of retractable tentacles fringed with tentilla that are covered with colloblasts, sticky cells that capture prey. The phylum has a wide range of body forms, including the flattened, deep-sea platyctenids, in which the adults of most species lack combs, and the coastal beroids, which lack tentacles and prey on other ctenophores by using huge mouths armed with groups of large, stiffened cilia that act as teeth. These variations enable different species to build huge populations in the same area, because they specialize in different types of prey, which they capture by as wide a range of methods as spiders use. Wikipedia

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