The Animal Kingdom


This topic gives an overview of; 

  •  Animalia
  • Porifera
  • Coelenterata
  • Platyhelminthes
  • Nematoda
  • Annelida
  • Arthropoda
  • Mollusca
  • Echinodermata
  • Protochordata
  • Vertebrata

The Animal Kingdom


These are organisms which are eukaryotic, multicellular and heterotrophic. Their cells do not have cell-walls. Most animals are mobile. They are further classified based on the extent and type of the body design differentiation found.


The word Porifera means organisms with holes. These are non-motile animals attachedb to some solid support. There are holes or pores all over the body. These lead to a canal system that helps in circulating water throughout the body to bring in food and oxygen. These animals are covered with a hard outside layer or skeleton. The body design involves very minimal differentiation and division into tissues. They are commonly called sponges, and are mainly found in marine habitats. Some examples are shown.



These are animals living in water. They show more body design differentiation. There is a cavity in the body. The body is made of two layers of cells: one makes up cells on the outside of the body, and the other makes the inner lining of the body. Some of these species live in colonies (corals), while others have a solitary like span (Hydra). Jellyfish and sea anemones are common examples.



The body of animals in this group is far more complexly designed than in the two other groups we have considered so far. The body is bilaterally symmetrical, meaning that the left and the right halves of the body have the same design. There are three layers of cells from which differentiated tissues can be made, which is why such animals are called triploblastic. This allows outside and inside body linings as well as some organs to be made. There is thus some degree of tissue formation. However, there is no true internal body cavity or coelom, in which welldeveloped organs can be accommodated. The body is flattened dorsiventrally, meaning from top to bottom, which is why these animals are called flatworms. They are either freeliving or parasitic. Some examples are freeliving animals like planarians, or parasitic animals like liverflukes.


The nematode body is also bilaterally symmetrical and triploblastic. However, the body is cylindrical rather than flattened. There are tissues, but no real organs, although a sort of body cavity or a pseudocoelom, is present. These are very familiar as parasitic worms causing diseases, such as the worms causing elephantiasis (filarial worms) or the worms in the intestines (roundworm or pinworms). Some examples are shown.


Annelid animals are also bilaterally symmetrical and triploblastic, but in addition they have a true body cavity. This allows true organs to be packaged in the body structure. There is, thus, extensive organ differentiation. This differentiation occurs in a segmental fashion, with the segments lined up one after the other from head to tail. These animals are found in a variety of habitats fresh water, marine water as well as land. Earthworms and leeches are familiar examples.


This is probably the largest group of animals. These animals are bilaterally symmetrical and segmented. There is an open circulatory system, and so the blood does not flow in welldefined blood vessels. The coelomic cavity is blood-filled. They have jointed legs (the word arthropod means jointed legs). Some familiar examples are prawns, butterflies, houseflies, spiders, scorpions and crabs.


In the animals of this group, there is bilateral symmetry. The coelomic cavity is reduced. There is little segmentation. They have an open circulatory system and kidney-like organs for excretion. There is a foot that is used for moving around. Examples are snails and mussels


In Greek, echinos means hedgehog, and derma means skin. Thus, these are spiny skinned organisms. These are exclusively free-living marine animals. They are triploblastic and have a coelomic cavity. They also have a peculiar water-driven tube system that they use for moving around. They have hard calcium carbonate structures that they use as a skeleton. Examples are starfish and sea urchins


These animals are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic and have a coelom. In addition, they show a new feature of body design,namely a notochord, at least at some stages during their lives. The notochord is a long rod-like support structure (chord=string) that runs along the back of the animal separating the nervous tissue from the gut. It provides a place for muscles to attach for ease of movement. Protochordates may not have a proper notochord present at all stages in their lives or for the entire length of the animal. Protochordates are marine animals. Examples are Balanoglossus, Herdmania and Amphioxus


These animals have a true vertebral column and internal skeleton, allowing a completely different distribution of muscle attachment points to be used for movement.

Vertebrates are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic, coelomic and segmented, with complex differentiation of body tissues and organs. All chordates possess the following
(i) have a notochord
(ii) have a dorsal nerve cord
(iii) are triploblastic
(iv) have paired gill pouches
(v) are coelomate.
Vertebrates are grouped into five classes.


These are fish. They are exclusively aquatic animals. Their skin is covered with scales/ plates. They obtain oxygen dissolved in water by using gills. The body is streamlined, and a muscular tail is used for movement. They are cold-blooded and their hearts have only two chambers, unlike the four that humans have. They lay eggs. We can think of many kinds of fish, some with skeletons made entirely of cartilage, such as sharks, and some with a skeleton made of both bone and cartilage, such as tuna or rohu


These animals differ from the fish in the lack of scales, in having mucus glands in the skin, and a three-chambered heart. Respiration is through either gills or lungs. They lay eggs. These animals are found both in water and on land. Frogs, toads and salamanders are some examples


These animals are cold-blooded, have scales and breathe through lungs. While most of them have a three-chambered heart, crocodiles have four heart chambers. They lay eggs with tough coverings and do not need to lay their eggs in water, unlike amphibians. Snakes, turtles, lizards and crocodiles fall in this category


These are warm-blooded animals and have a four-chambered heart. They lay eggs. There is an outside covering of feathers, and two forelimbs are modified for flight. They breathe through lungs. All birds fall in this category.


Mammals are warm-blooded animals with four-chambered hearts. They have mammary glands for the production of milk to nourish their young. Their skin has hairs as well as sweat and oil glands. Most mammals familiar to us produce live young ones. However, a few of them, like the platypus and the echidna lay eggs, and some, like kangaroos give birth to very poorly developed young ones. Some examples are shown.


  • Animalia classification includes Invertebrata and Vertebrata.
  • Invertebrata classification is characterized by absence of vertebral column.
  • Porifera includes Sycon, Spongilla and Euplectella.
  • Coelenterata includes Hydra, Obelia,Corals and Sea anemone and has gastrovascularcavity.
  • Platyhelminthes are acoelomates, triploblastic and bilaterally symmetrical.
  • Nematoda includes Ascaris, Enterobius and Wuchereria.
  • Annelida includes earthworms and leeches and has true coelom.
  • Arthropoda includes Honey bees, Spiders, Prawns and Centipedes and has open circulatory system.
  • Mollusca includes chiton, mussel, snail and octopus. Echinodermata includes starfish, sea cucumbers and sea urchins and have tube feet for locomotion.
  • tochordata has notochord and includes Balanoglossus, Herdemania and Amphioxus.
  • Classification of vertebrata includes Pisces, Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves and Mammalia Fishes includes cartilaginous and bony fishes.


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