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The Animal Kingdom

zoology: the study of animal life invertebrates: multicellular, eukaryotic heterotrophs that do not have a notochord vertebrates: multicellular, eukaryotic heterotrophs that have a notochord at some stage in their life notochord: a skeletal rod of connective tissue that runs lengthwise along the dorsal surface and beneath the nerve cord. Notochords are present at some time during vertebrate development. coelom: the fluid-filled space inside the body, lined with a layer of cells called the peritoneum

What characteristics make an organism a part of the animal kingdom? Like plants, animals are multicellular and eukaryotic. However, animals differ significantly from plants because their cells have no cell walls, only a cell membrane, and they are heterotrophicthey cannot make their own food. Animals obtain their food from plants or other animals, then digest that food, circulate its nutrients throughout the body for growth and energy supply, and dispose of it as metabolic waste. They must coordinate their activities, avoid predators and other hazards, grow, and reproduce. Scientists who study zoology divide this complex kingdom into two broad groups: invertebrates and vertebrates. The invertebrates do not have a backbone. They are the only large taxonomic group defined by the lack of a characteristic rather than by the presence of a common feature. The vertebrates, to which humans belong, have a notochord for at least part of their life cycle. The following are some of the major characteristics used to classify animals: body organizationDoes the animal have tissues, or tissues organized into organs, or organ systems? number of body layersDoes the animal have two or three layers? body symmetryDoes the animal have radial or bilateral symmetry? digestive tract or gutDoes the animals gut have only one opening or does it have two openings: a mouth for food intake and an anus for expulsion of body waste (Figure 1)? coelom or body cavityDoes the animal have a true body cavity, is it partially formed, or is it absent?

hydra Figure 1 Hydra and jellyfish have a saclike gut with a single opening. More complex animals, such as earthworms and birds, have a tubelike gut with a separate mouth and anus. This arrangement enables the one-way movement of food through the gut, and permits greater specialization in a region, such as for grinding or chewing, chemical digestion, and absorption of nutrients.

earthworm bird

Number of Body Layers

germ layers: layers of cells in the embryo that give rise to specific tissues in the adult

One important characteristic that separates certain animal phyla from others is the number of germ layers their members possess. (In this case germ refers to the beginning of something, as in germination.) Germ layers appear very early in the development of most young organisms and give rise to specific tissues in the adult. There are three different types of germ layers: ectoderm (ecto meaning outer and derm meaning skin or layer), endoderm (endo meaning inner), and mesoderm (meso meaning middle). Cells from the ectoderm will form skin and the nervous system. In more complex animals, feathers, scales, hair, and nails also come from the ectoderm.

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Cells from the endoderm will form the lining of the gut. In most animals, there is a germ layer between the ectoderm and endoderm: the mesoderm, which gives rise to organs of the circulatory, reproductive, excretory, and muscular systems. The simplest animals, such as the sponges and jellyfish, have no mesoderm; therefore, they lack structures such as a circulatory system. With only an ectoderm and endoderm, each cell of the animal is exposed to seawater. A circulatory system is unnecessary because nutrients are received directly from the water; and an excretory system is unnecessary because wastes are discharged into the water. By comparing many different animals, zoologists have found that as their complexity increases, a larger mesoderm layer develops and structures become more elaborate (Figure 2(c)). Because the middle layer of cells is no longer directly connected to the external environment, an internal transport system becomes important for carrying nutrients throughout the body and for removing wastes.

Body Cavities
Another characteristic useful for classifying animals is the presence or absence of a body cavity called a coelom. The coelom is located between the body wall and the gut, and contains and protects the internal organs. The coelom develops from the embryos mesoderm in all vertebrates and higher invertebrates, and has a definite lining of cells called the peritoneum. The peritoneum not only lines the inner surface of the body wall but also surrounds the internal organs and holds them in place (Figure 2(c)). Less complex invertebrates may lack a coelom (Figure 2(a)), or may have an intermediate structure called a pseudocoelom, which is a fluid-filled space of variable shape and has no peritoneum (Figure 2(b)).
ectoderm gut

peritoneum: a covering membrane that lines the body cavity and covers the internal organs pseudocoelom: a fluid-filled cavity that lacks the mesodermal lining of a true coelom

endoderm mesoderm (a) acoelomate


ectoderm mesoderm endoderm body cavity (pseudocoelom) (b) pseudocoelomate

notochord ectoderm mesoderm gut body cavity (coelom) peritoneum endoderm (c) coelomate Figure 2 (a) Acoelomates, such as flatworms, lack a body cavity. (b) Pseudocoelomates, such as roundworms, do not have a continuous peritoneal lining. (c) Coelomates, such as the higher invertebrates and vertebrates, have a true coelom lined with a continuous peritoneum.

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The development of a coelom was probably associated, at least in part, with an increase in animal size. As a solid structure increases in volume, the exchange of gases, food materials, and waste is less easily accomplished, and the folding of different organs to increase the surface area is somewhat restricted. Having a body cavity allows space for internal organs such as lungs, heart, stomach, and intestines to expand and contract and to slide by each other as the animal moves. The fluid of the cavity may further aid in waste removal and in the circulation of food materials and oxygen.

How is body symmetry related to an animals lifestyle and brain development? Animals that display radial symmetry, such as hydra, jellyfish, and starfish, are not well suited to rapid locomotion (Figure 3). One explanation for the slower movement can be traced to the fact that no one region always leads. Only animals that display bilateral symmetry have a true head region. Because the head, or anterior region, tends to enter a new environment first, nerve cells are usually concentrated in this area. Cephalization (from the Latin cephalicus, meaning head) enables the rapid processing of stimuli such as food or danger. Not surprisingly, bilateral symmetry is advantageous for animals that actively move forward (Figure 4).

cephalization: the concentration of nerve tissue and receptors at the anterior end of an animals body

dorsal (top)

anterior (front)

posterior (back)

ventral (bottom)

Figure 3 Planes of radial symmetry in a hydra

Figure 4 Plane of bilateral symmetry in a fish

Classifying Invertebrates
sessile: not capable of independent movement. Sessile animals remain fixed in one place throughout their adult lives. motile: capable of movement. Motile animals are able to move from place to place by expending cellular energy.

Numbering over one million species, the invertebrates comprise over 95% of all described animal species and affect life on Earth in countless ways. Their diversity ranges from a microscopic mite in house dust to the large graceful Portuguese man-of-war drifting in the ocean, from a termite digesting wood to a leech ingesting blood, from a sessile sponge found on the bottom of the ocean to a motile butterfly that migrates thousands of kilometres. Some of the 30 or so phyla in the animal kingdom are described in Table 1, arranged from least to most complex. All but one of these phyla include invertebrates. Scientists group all vertebrates in only one phylum.

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Table 1: Summary of Major Phyla of the Animal Kingdom Phylum (common name) 1. 1. Porifera (sponges) Representative members giant sponge vase, redbeard sponge Description sessile irregular shape no mouth or digestive cavity marine and freshwater Approx. no. of species 5 000

2. Cnidaria 2.

jellyfish, hydra

3. 3. Platyhelminthes (flatworms) turbellarians, flukes, tapeworms

sessile or motile medusoid form and polyp form in life cycle of some organisms stinging nematocysts radial symmetry marine, with a few freshwater free-living in marine or fresh water, or parasitic body flattened dorsoventrally mouth but no anus cylindrical, slender, tapered at either end free-living or parasitic all habitats anterior end ringed with cilia, posterior end tapering to a foot mostly freshwater, with some marine microscopic size segmented body terrestrial and aquatic mouth and anus muscular foot shell present in many forms all habitats segmented body, some segments may be fused; jointed appendages; external skeleton all habitats and modes of life, including parasitism adults have pentamerous (five-sided) radial symmetry marine notochord at some time in life history all habitats

10 000

19 000

4. 5. 6. 7.

4. Nematoda (roundworms)

hookworm, pinworm, vinegar eel

20 000+

5. Rotifera (wheel animals)


1 500

6. Annelida (segmented worms) 7. Mollusca (mollusks) 8. Arthropoda (arthropods)

earthworms, leeches, polychaetes snails, clams, squids

12 000+


100 000+

9. 10.

insects, crab, mites, ticks, spiders, centipedes

1 000 000+

9. Echinodermata

starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals

7 000

10. Chordata (chordates)

7 000

Understanding Concepts 1. What are three features shared by all organisms in the animal kingdom? 2. How many germ layers are present in the embryos of complex animals? How are the germ layers different from one another? 3. Define coelom and describe one advantage provided by having a coelom. 4. What type of body symmetry do humans possess? Explain.

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