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Natural kingdoms

All living things are divided into large groups called

'kingdoms'. Scientists haven't quite agreed how many kingdoms there are, but
many think that there are five: the monera (bacteria), the protoctista, the plants,
the fungi and the animals.

Kingdom Animalia
Name: Kingdom Animalia
Type of organism: All animals, including you!
Numbers of species: 1,500,000 - but this is only a rough guess
Where they are found: Almost everywhere - in the sea, in freshwater, and on

Description: Animals are multicellular (many celled) organisms. They do not

produce their own food.

How do we divide the animal kingdom?

Invertebrates - animals without a backbone.

Vertebrates - animals with a backbone.

The animals have been divided into two groups based on

the presence or absence of a backbone..

These groups are divided into smaller 'sub-groups'.

Sponges, corals, worms, insects, spiders and crabs are all sub-groups of the
invertebrate group - they do not have a backbone.

Fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals are different sub-groups of

vertebrates - they all have internal skeletons and backbones.

Numbers of species: About 5,000

Where they are found: On land, in the oceans, and in

Description: Mammals' bodies are covered in fur. Most

mammals give birth to small numbers of live young, they
look after them, and feed them with the milk they produce.

Need to know: The platypus is a very strange mammal -

unlike most other mammals it lays eggs. It is also the only
mammal that is poisonous - the male platypus has
poisonous spurs on its legs.


Numbers of species: Over 5,000 (although most of these

are snakes and lizards)
Where they are found: On land, in the oceans, and in

Description: Reptiles have lots of different body forms, but

most have dry scaly skin. They usually lay small clutches of
eggs and can look after their young.

Need to know: Reptiles, amphibians and fish are usually

described as being 'cold blooded', because they do not
maintain a constant body temperature, as mammals and
birds do. Their blood is not really cold though, because they
can warm themselves in the sun.


Numbers of species: About 10,000

Where they are found: Flying in the skies, swimming in the
sea and wading in lakes and rivers

Description: Birds bodies are covered in feathers, they have

beaks, and most have adapted their bodies to flight. They lay
small clutches of eggs and generally look after their young.

Need to know: Not all dinosaurs died out

with Tyrannosaurus rex. Birds are dinosaurs! They evolved
from small feathered dinosaurs millions of years ago, and are
still flying today.

Numbers of species: About 5,000

Where they are found: On land and in freshwater

Description: Amphibians have moist, naked skin (without

scales). Adults generally live on land and breathe air, while
young amphibians (tadpoles) live in water and have gills.

Need to know: Most amphibians lay lots of eggs and do not look
after their young. There are some exceptions - some frogs brood
their eggs on their back, on their legs, and even in their stomach!

Bony fish

Numbers of species: About 25,000

Where they are found: In the sea and in freshwater

Description: These fish have bony skeletons and thin

paired fins. Their bodies are covered in scales and, like
sharks, they use gills to get oxygen from water. Most bony
fish lay lots of eggs, and take very little care of their young.

Need to know: There are more types of bony fish than

any other type of vertebrate. They make up most of the
fish that swim in the seas, rivers and lakes.

Sharks and rays

Numbers of species: About 850

Where they are found: Mainly in the sea

Description: Everyone knows what a shark or ray

looks like! Unlike other fish they have fleshy fins, and
skeletons made of cartilage, not bone. Their teeth and
small scales are the only 'bony' parts of a shark.

Need to know: Many sharks give birth to live young.

Unlike most other fish they have 'internal fertilisation'.