Cnidarians are a diverse group of aquatic animals. More than 9,000 species are part of the Phylum Cnidaria, and all species are aquatic. Cnidarians are widespread in marine habitats and less common in fresh water.
This interesting group of invertebrates includes many charismatic organisms such as hydras, sea fans, jellyfishes, sea anemones, corals, and the Portuguese man-of-war. Cnidarians all have some type of specialized stinging cell organelle.
Cnidarians' bodies typically take one of two forms: the polyp or the medusa. While the polyp form is adapted for a sedentary or sessile lifestyle, the medusa form is adapted for floating or free-swimming. Sea anemones and corals (class Anthoza) are all polyps. True jellyfishes (class Scyphozoa) are all medusae, though some have a polyp larval stage. Notably, some hydroids (class Hydrozoa) alternate between polyp and medusa forms throughout their lives.
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