Animal Biology: The Classifications of Animals

Did you know that one out of every four mammals alive today is an animal? They range from insects to mammals, marsupials to placental vertebrates. The diversity of animal life is tremendous. We are probably all familiar with some type of animal. Many people even have a degree of familiarity with all animals, or at least most of them.

The animal Kingdom includes over eighty classifications of living animals. Animals are multicellular eukaryotic organisms whose cells are held together by a protein called collagen. Animals generally dominate animal conceptions of life in the biological world due to their great size, variety, abundance, mobility, and complexity. The presence of complex muscles and unique mobility are among the characteristics of an animal.

Some of the classifications of animals are divided further into several subcategories. Some animals are amphibians, meaning they have both gills and legs, and some insects are true insects, meaning they have no legs or gills. Cephalopods, which include some tube-like creatures such as oysters and clams, are an important part of marine life. The classification of animals can also be broken down into Protista (including cephalopods, corals, protozoans, eels, snails, etc.) and Chordata (which includes both chordates and cephalopods, and mollusks and sharks).

Subclassifications of animal species also sometimes include other interesting classifications. The word "paralysis" comes from the Greek words Paras (a living thing) and Lyco (are). Parasites cause the death of a living animal through suffocation, blockage, or constriction. They can also constrict blood vessels leading to organ failure. A paronychium is a type of parasite, a type of coral that grows on the ocean floor, sucking blood from its host fish.

Some animals have adapted in different ways to cope with their environment. Insectivores eat various types of invertebrates and their larvae (insect eggs). Herbivores eat plants, roots, fruits and sometimes other animals, but not insects. Carnivores are primarily carnivores; they eat either meat or their prey (such as rodents).

Bacteria are an important part of many animals' bodies. They provide food, protection and different types of biochemical processes. Every living cell contains bacteria in various phases of development (called phylum), and in different combinations within the body (called phylum, class and order). Some bacteria live outside of the body and within living tissues, called prokaryotes. Other bacteria reside inside the body and secrete toxins, using the food that the animal provides as food.

All animals including insects have a sexual and a male reproductive system. In most animals, females have a small vagina that connects to the clitoris. The male has testicles (genitalia) and sperm. The male holds the sperm in the male genital area until it hatches, at which time it is released into the female's vagina where it stimulates her ovaries. Female sperm is faster than male sperm and doesn't wear out before it fertilizes an egg.

All mammals, invertebrates and insects need nutrition to survive. They obtain their food either by eating vegetation or by hunting other animals, as well as other types of organisms that live in or on their bodies. A wide range of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins are needed to fuel the growing and developing body and its varied systems. Milk is the most important food for most animals, although animal fats and proteins may also be necessary to supply the body with the energy it requires to grow and develop.

Certain mammals and invertebrates are sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity, diet, stress, and air quality. Some species have evolved specific coping mechanisms to help them survive when confronted with such problems. For example, African-American mammals have evolved specialized body arrangements to protect the toes, hands and feet from extreme temperatures. In the same way, house mice have evolved heat-sensitivity to help them regulate internal body temperatures in times of cold weather.

Many animals have developed a specialized structure known as an exoskeleton to protect their vital organs from predators. This structure often includes sponges that contain hairs or fur, as well as a protective exterior skin to provide a second layer of protection. The sponge has spongy interiors where digestive fluids and excretory organs are stored. Animals have no nerve endings in this area of the body, so they do not feel pain; however, the sponges are covered with sensitive skin that protects them from pain. The sponges also help to eliminate toxins and eliminate excess water from the animal's body.

Insects, amphibians, and mammals make up another important group of animal classes. These animals include all forms of reptiles and amphibians, as well as some fishes, small ungulates (reptiles), and birds. All of these animals require an environment of cleanliness, elevated humidity, plenty of food and water, and protection from predators. Furthermore, they require space for swimming and leaping activity.

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