They are distinguished from their close relatives, the cheilostomes, by their lack of a calcified exoskeleton. Instead, the exoskeleton is chitinous, gelatinous, or composed only of a soft membrane, and always lacks an operculum. Colonies of ctenostomes are often composed of elongated, branch-like stolons, although more compact forms also exist.
- Pohowsky, R.A. (1978). "The boring ctenostomate bryozoa: taxonomy and paleobiology based on cavities in calcareous substrata". Bulletins of American Paleontology 73: 192p.
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