Several other extinct or obscure life forms, such as Iotuba and Thectardis appear to have emerged in the group. Characteristics of eumetazoans include true tissues organized into germ layers, the presence of neurons, and an embryo that goes through a gastrula stage.
Some phylogenists have speculated the sponges and eumetazoans evolved separately from single-celled organisms, which would mean that the animal kingdom does not form a clade (a complete grouping of all organisms descended from a common ancestor). However, genetic studies and some morphological characteristics, like the common presence of choanocytes, support a common origin.
Traditionally, Eumetazoans are a major group of animals in the Five Kingdoms classification of Lynn Margulis and K. V. Schwartz, comprising the Radiata and Bilateria — all animals except the sponges. When treated as a formal taxon Eumetazoa is typically ranked as a subkingdom. The name Metazoa has also been used to refer to this group, but more often refers to the Animalia as a whole. Many classification schemes do not include a subkingdom Eumetazoa.
However, some skeptics emphasize inconsistencies in the new data. The zoologist Claus Nielsen argues in his 2001 book Animal Evolution: Interrelationships of the Living Phyla for the traditional divisions of Protostomia and Deuterostomia.
It has been suggested that one type of molecular clock and one approach to interpretation of the fossil record both place the evolutionary origins of eumetazoa in the Ediacaran. However, the earliest eumetazoans may not have left a clear impact on the fossil record and other interpretations of molecular clocks suggest the possibility of an earlier origin. The discoverers of Vernanimalcula describe it as the fossil of a bilateraltriploblastic animal that appeared at the end of the Marinoan glaciation prior to the Ediacaran Period, implying an even earlier origin for eumetazoans.
^Lankester, Ray (1877). Notes on the Embryology and classification of the Animal kingdom: comprising a revision of speculations relative to the origin and significance of the germ-layers. Quartely Journal of Microscopical Science (N.S.), No. 68: 399–454.
^Beklemishev, V.L. The basis of the comparative anatomy of the invertebrates [Основы сравнительной анатомии беспозвоночных]. 1st ed., 1944; 2nd ed., 1950; 3rd ed. (2 vols.), 1964. English translation, 1969, . Akademia Nauk, Moscow, Leningrad.
^Giribet, Gonzalo (1 October 2016). "Genomics and the animal tree of life: conflicts and future prospects". Zoologica Scripta. 45: 14–21. doi:10.1111/zsc.12215.
^Laumer, Christopher E; Gruber-Vodicka, Harald; Hadfield, Michael G; Pearse, Vicki B; Riesgo, Ana; Marioni, John C; Giribet, Gonzalo (2018-10-30). "Support for a clade of Placozoa and Cnidaria in genes with minimal compositional bias". eLife. 7. doi:10.7554/elife.36278. ISSN2050-084X. PMID30373720.