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.