Temporal range: Cryogenian – Recent 670–0Ma
Animals are sustenance (see Heterotroph).
Most known animal phyla appeared in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, about 542 million years ago. Animals are divided into various sub-groups, some of which are: vertebrates (birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish); molluscs (clams, oysters, octopuses, squid, snails); arthropods (millipedes, centipedes, insects, spiders, scorpions, crabs, lobsters, shrimp); annelids (earthworms, leeches); sponges; and jellyfish.
- Etymology 1
- Structure 2.1
- Reproduction and development 2.2
- Food and energy sourcing 2.3
- Origin and fossil record 3
Groups of animals 4
- Ctenophora, Porifera, Placozoa, Cnidaria and Bilateria 4.1
- Deuterostomes 4.2
- Ecdysozoa 4.3
- Platyzoa 4.4
- Lophotrochozoa 4.5
- Model organisms 5
- History of classification 6
- See also 7
- References 8
- Bibliography 9
- External links 10
The word "animal" comes from the Latin word animalis, meaning "having breath". In everyday non-scientific usage the word excludes humans – that is, "animal" is often used to refer only to non-human members of the kingdom Animalia; often, only closer relatives of humans such as mammals, or mammals and other vertebrates, are meant. The biological definition of the word refers to all members of the kingdom Animalia, encompassing creatures as diverse as sponges, jellyfish, insects, and humans.
Animals have several characteristics that set them apart from other living things. Animals are eukaryotic and multicellular, which separates them from bacteria and most protists. They are heterotrophic, generally digesting food in an internal chamber, which separates them from plants and algae. They are also distinguished from plants, algae, and fungi by lacking rigid cell walls. All animals are motile, if only at certain life stages. In most animals, embryos pass through a blastula stage, which is a characteristic exclusive to animals.
With a few exceptions, most notably the eumetazoans when the former is used for animals in general.
All animals have genomes, but as many genes, introns, and linkages lost, these ecdysozoans can teach us little about the origins of animals in general. The extent of this type of evolution within the superphylum will be revealed by the crustacean, annelid, and molluscan genome projects currently in progress. Analysis of the starlet sea anemone genome has emphasised the importance of sponges, placozoans, and choanoflagellates, also being sequenced, in explaining the arrival of 1500 ancestral genes unique to the Eumetazoa.
An analysis of the homoscleromorph sponge Oscarella carmela also suggests that the last common ancestor of sponges and the eumetazoan animals was more complex than previously assumed.
History of classification
Aristotle divided the living world between animals and plants, and this was followed by Carl Linnaeus, in the first hierarchical classification. In Linnaeus's original scheme, the animals were one of three kingdoms, divided into the classes of Vermes, Insecta, Pisces, Amphibia, Aves, and Mammalia. Since then the last four have all been subsumed into a single phylum, the Chordata, whereas the various other forms have been separated out.
In 1874, Ernst Haeckel divided the animal kingdom into two subkingdoms: Metazoa (multicellular animals) and Protozoa (single-celled animals). The protozoa were later moved to the kingdom Protista, leaving only the metazoa. Thus Metazoa is now considered a synonym of Animalia.
- Animal coloration
- Biological classification
- List of animal names
- List of animals by number of neurons
- Lists of animals
- Lists of organisms by population
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The Lophotrochozoa also include the Nemertea or ribbon worms, the Sipuncula, and several phyla that have a ring of ciliated tentacles around the mouth, called a lophophore. These were traditionally grouped together as the lophophorates. but it now appears that the lophophorate group may be paraphyletic, with some closer to the nemerteans and some to the molluscs and annelids. They include the Brachiopoda or lamp shells, which are prominent in the fossil record, the Entoprocta, the Phoronida, and possibly the Bryozoa or moss animals.
The Lophotrochozoa, evolved within Protostomia, include two of the most successful animal phyla, the Mollusca and Annelida. The former, which is the second-largest animal phylum by number of described species, includes animals such as snails, clams, and squids, and the latter comprises the segmented worms, such as earthworms and leeches. These two groups have long been considered close relatives because of the common presence of trochophore larvae, but the annelids were considered closer to the arthropods because they are both segmented. Now, this is generally considered convergent evolution, owing to many morphological and genetic differences between the two phyla.
The other platyzoan phyla are mostly microscopic and pseudocoelomate. The most prominent are the Rotifera or rotifers, which are common in aqueous environments. They also include the Acanthocephala or spiny-headed worms, the Gnathostomulida, Micrognathozoa, and possibly the Cycliophora. These groups share the presence of complex jaws, from which they are called the Gnathifera.
The Platyzoa include the phylum Platyhelminthes, the flatworms. These were originally considered some of the most primitive Bilateria, but it now appears they developed from more complex ancestors. A number of parasites are included in this group, such as the flukes and tapeworms. Flatworms are acoelomates, lacking a body cavity, as are their closest relatives, the microscopic Gastrotricha.
The ecdysozoans also include the Nematoda or roundworms, perhaps the second largest animal phylum. Roundworms are typically microscopic, and occur in nearly every environment where there is water. A number are important parasites. Smaller phyla related to them are the Nematomorpha or horsehair worms, and the Kinorhyncha, Priapulida, and Loricifera. These groups have a reduced coelom, called a pseudocoelom.
The Onychophora and Tardigrada, are close relatives of the arthropods and share these traits.
The Chaetognatha or arrow worms may also be deuterostomes, but more recent studies suggest protostome affinities.
In addition to these, the deuterostomes also include the Hemichordata, or acorn worms. Although they are not especially prominent today, the important fossil graptolites may belong to this group.
All this suggests the deuterostomes and protostomes are separate, monophyletic lineages. The main phyla of deuterostomes are the Echinodermata and Chordata. The former are radially symmetric and exclusively marine, such as starfish, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. The latter are dominated by the vertebrates, animals with backbones. These include Fish, amphibians, reptiles, Birds, and mammals.
Deuterostomes differ from the other Bilateria, called protostomes, in several ways. In both cases there is a complete digestive tract. However, in protostomes, the first opening of the gut to appear in embryological development (the archenteron) develops into the mouth, with the anus forming secondarily. In deuterostomes the anus forms first, with the mouth developing secondarily. In most protostomes, cells simply fill in the interior of the gastrula to form the mesoderm, called schizocoelous development, but in deuterostomes, it forms through invagination of the endoderm, called enterocoelic pouching. Deuterostome embryos undergo radial cleavage during cell division, while protostomes undergo spiral cleavage.
Genetic studies have considerably changed our understanding of the relationships within the Bilateria. Most appear to belong to two major lineages: the deuterostomes and the protostomes, the latter of which includes the Ecdysozoa, Platyzoa, and Lophotrochozoa. In addition, there are a few small groups of bilaterians with relatively similar structure that appear to have diverged before these major groups. These include the Acoelomorpha, Rhombozoa, and Orthonectida. The Myxozoa, single-celled parasites that were originally considered Protozoa, are now believed to have developed from the Medusozoa as well.
The remaining animals form a coelom or pseudocoelom. There are exceptions to each of these characteristics, however — for instance adult echinoderms are radially symmetric, and certain parasitic worms have extremely simplified body structures.
A new family of animals, the Dendrogrammatidae, was discovered in Australian water. Further DNA tests is required, but scientists suspects they could represent a whole new phyla, possible descendants of the Ediacaran fauna.
are similar, but they do not have a permanent digestive chamber. placozoans The tiny .diploblastic There are only two main germ layers, the ectoderm and endoderm, with only scattered cells between them. As such, these animals are sometimes called  Among the other phyla, the Ctenophora and the
 or comb jellies which are the basal lineage of animals, at least among those 21 phyla. The authors speculate that sponges—or at least those lines of sponges they investigated—are not so primitive, but may instead be secondarily simplified.Ctenophora However, a phylogenomic study in 2008 of 150 genes in 29 animals across 21 phyla revealed that it is the , which have fused skeletons, may represent sponges or a separate phylum.Archaeocyatha  Sponges typically feed by drawing in water through pores. The sponges (
Ctenophora, Porifera, Placozoa, Cnidaria and Bilateria
Groups of animals
Some paleontologists suggest that animals appeared much earlier than the Cambrian explosion, possibly as early as 1 billion years ago. Trace fossils such as tracks and burrows found in the Tonian period indicate the presence of triploblastic worms, like metazoans, roughly as large (about 5 mm wide) and complex as earthworms. During the beginning of the Tonian period around 1 billion years ago, there was a decrease in Stromatolite diversity, which may indicate the appearance of grazing animals, since stromatolite diversity increased when grazing animals went extinct at the End Permian and End Ordovician extinction events, and decreased shortly after the grazer populations recovered. However the discovery that tracks very similar to these early trace fossils are produced today by the giant single-celled protist Gromia sphaerica casts doubt on their interpretation as evidence of early animal evolution.
Aside from them, most known animal phyla make a more or less simultaneous appearance during the Cambrian period, about 542 million years ago. It is still disputed whether this event, called the Cambrian explosion, is due to a rapid divergence between different groups or due to a change in conditions that made fossilization possible.
The next oldest possible animal fossils are found towards the end of the Precambrian, around 610 million years ago, and are known as the Ediacaran or Vendian biota. These are difficult to relate to later fossils, however. Some may represent precursors of modern phyla, but they may be separate groups, and it is possible they are not really animals at all.
The first fossils that might represent animals appear in the Trezona Formation at Trezona Bore, West Central Flinders, South Australia. These fossils are interpreted as being early sponges. They were found in 665-million-year-old rock.
Animals are generally considered to have evolved from a flagellated eukaryote. Their closest known living relatives are the choanoflagellates, collared flagellates that have a morphology similar to the choanocytes of certain sponges. Molecular studies place animals in a supergroup called the opisthokonts, which also include the choanoflagellates, fungi and a few small parasitic protists. The name comes from the posterior location of the flagellum in motile cells, such as most animal spermatozoa, whereas other eukaryotes tend to have anterior flagella.
Origin and fossil record
Animals living close to hydrothermal vents and cold seeps on the ocean floor are not dependent on the energy of sunlight. Instead chemosynthetic archaea and bacteria form the base of the food chain.
Most animals indirectly use the energy of carbohydrates, Fats, proteins and other biomolecules, characteristically containing reduced carbon in the form of carbon-hydrogen bonds. Starting with carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O), photosynthesis converts the energy of sunlight into chemical energy in the form of simple sugars (e.g., glucose), with the release of molecular oxygen. These sugars are then used as the building blocks for plant growth, including the production of other biomolecules. When an animal eats plants (or eats other animals which have eaten plants), the reduced carbon compounds in the food become a source of energy and building materials for the animal. They are either used directly to help the animal grow, or broken down, releasing stored solar energy, and giving the animal the energy required for motion.
evolutionary arms race between prey and predator, resulting in various antipredator adaptations.
All animals are heterotrophs, meaning that they feed directly or indirectly on other living things. They are often further subdivided into groups such as carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, and parasites.
Food and energy sourcing
Nearly all animals undergo some form of sexual reproduction. They have a few specialized reproductive cells, which undergo meiosis to produce smaller, motile spermatozoa or larger, non-motile ova. These fuse to form zygotes, which develop into new individuals.