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Biosphere Community
Kindom Animals

Animals all begin life similarly. A small swimming sperm fertilizes a larger egg. The fertilized egg repeatedly divides to form, in the initial stage of embryo development, a hollow sphere of cells - the animal blastula. This blastula is the defining trait of animal-hood. All animals begin as a sphere of cells. That includes all insects, all worms, all jellyfish, all birds, all lobsters, all sea urchins, all bats, all rock musicians, and on and on.

What are animals, anyway? In biology, animals share the following:

• Animals are multi-cellular (eucaryote cells), unlike bacteria (procaryotes), but like plants.

• They feed on others (heterotrophs), unlike plants, which feed themselves (autotrophs)

• In at least one life stage, animals can move spontaneously and show rapid muscular response to stimulation, unlike plants, which can move, but can't decide to move, and can't move rapidly.

This word “animal” can be confusing. There is a thinking problem called “nothing but…”

When a person says, “Human beings are animals,” people with the “nothing but” thinking problem hear “Human beings are nothing but animals.” This was not said.

People's concern, of course, is about the spirit or the soul. Saying we are animals is a description of our bodies, and says nothing about our intangible parts.

The ironic part of this confusion is this: our word “animal” derives from the Latin word “anima,” which in Latin means “soul.”

Sometimes, when people say “animal,” they mean just mammals, which are only one kind of animal, our kind, of course, the kind that feed their babies milk.

You know a lot about animals already, of course. We all know animal stories, many of us are lucky enough to have pets. We like stuffed animals; many adults still have one from childhood.

Animals have existed for a very long time, first in the ocean (marine animals), eventually on land (terrestrial animals).

Size: Many animals, most roundworms and all rotifers, for example, are microscopic is size. Most life on Earth is microscopic. See Bacteria, Protists. We humans tend to be aware only of the macrolife around us, big organisms, from ants to elephants.

Animal life takes an astounding variety of shapes. Each form has its beauties. We are all members of one community. For all our wonder-filled diversity, we share a common ancestry. Over time, we share the very atoms of our flesh. In diversity there is strength and flexibility.

Our Amazing Diversity of Form and Beauty

sea otter
green heron
polyp medusa stage
basket star skeleton
deep ocean fangfish
lubber grasshopper
a salp
great egret
jellyfish
beetle
sea snail
American toad
coral polyps feeding
scorpion
red squirrel
great gray owl

 

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Explore Further in Biosphere

 
Biosphere: Introduction
 
Biosphere as Place: Introduction
 
Biosphere as Ocean: Life Zones
 
Biosphere as Ocean Floor: Benthic Biomes One
 
Biosphere as Ocean Floor: Benthic Biomes Two
 
Biosphere on Land: Terrestrial Biomes
 
Biosphere on Land: Anthropogenic Biomes
 
Biosphere as Process: Introduction
 
Biosphere Process: Floating Continents, Tectonic Plates
 
Biosphere Process: Photosynthesis
 
Biosphere Process: Life Helps Make Earth's Crust
 
Biosphere Process:
Rock Cycle--Marriage of Water and Rock
 
Biosphere Process: Marriage of Wind and Water
   
Biosphere Process: Gas Exchange
 
Biosphere as An Expression of Spirit
 
The Ecological Function of Art
 
The Earth Goddess
 
The Tree of Life
 
The Green Man
 
Earth Art
 
Biosphere as Community
 
Biosphere Microcosm: Bacteria and Archaea
The Procaryote Domain
 
Biosphere Microcosm: Germs
 
Biosphere Community: The Eucaryote Domain
 
Biosphere Community: Protists 1: Algae
 
  Biosphere Community: Protists 2: Protozoa
 
Biosphere Community: Plants: What's New?
 
Biosphere Community: Plant Diversity--Major Groups
 
Biosphere Community: Plant Defense
 
Biosphere Community: Plant Pollination
   
Biosphere Community: Plant Seed Dispersal
 
Biosphere Community: Kingdom Animals
 
Biosphere Community: Kingdom Fungi
 
Biosphere Community: Six Great Extinctions
 
Return to Ecology Index

 

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