First, a comparison of the relative numbers of the representatives of the various classes at different epochs; according to this they may be placed in the following order, with the oldest first: Cystidea, Crinoidea, Blastoidea, Asteroidea, Ophiuroidea, Echinoidea.
Turning to fossil Asteroidea, we find the earlier ophiurids scarcely distinguishable from the asterids, while in the alternation of the ambulacrals, which undoubtedly correspond to the flooring-plates of Edrioaster, both groups approach the Pelmatozoan type.
To this point we shall recur; palaeontology, though it suggests a clue, does not furnish an actual link either between Echinoidea and Asteroidea, or between those classes and Pelmatozoa.
The genital organs in both Asteroidea and Echinoidea would retain the interradial position they first assumed in Edrioaster; and in Echinoidea their primitive temporary openings to the exterior were converted into definite pores, correlated with five interradially placed plates at the aboral pole.
In the Echinoidea the water-canals and associated structures, ending in the terminal plates, stretched right up to these genital plates; but in the Asteroidea they never reached the aboral surface, so that the terminals have always been separated from the aboral pole by a number of plates.
The starfish, brittle-stars and their allies have usually been divided into two classes - Asteroidea and Ophiuroidea, each equivalent to the Holothurioidea or Echinoidea.
There was also sufficient comprehension of the differences between the main classes of Echinoderms - the sea-urchins or Echinoidea, the starfish or Asteroidea, the brittle-stars and their allies known as Ophiuroidea, the worm-like Holothurians, the feather-stars and sea-lilies called Crinoidea, with their extinct relatives the sac-like Cystidea, the bud-formed Blastoidea, and the flattened Edrioasteroideawhile within the larger of these classes, such as Echinoidea and Crinoidea, fair working classifications had been established.
The plates at the tips of the rays) in Asteroidea and Ophiuroidea, and therefore not homologous with the radially disposed plates often seen around the aboral pole of those animals.
A calycinal system may be quite apparent in the later Ophiuroidea and in a few Asteroidea, but there is no trace of it in the older Palaeozoic types, unless we are to transfer the appellation to the terminals.