You are here

Features of the Animal Kingdom

18 November, 2015 - 11:07

Animals constitute a diverse kingdom of organisms. Although animals range in complexity from simple sea sponges to human beings, most members share certain features. Animals are eukaryotic, multicellular, heterotrophic organisms that ingest their food and usually develop into motile creatures with a fixed body plan. Most members of the animal kingdom have differentiated tissues of four main classes—nervous, muscular, connective, and epithelial—that are specialized to perform different functions. Most animals reproduce sexually, leading to a developmental sequence that is relatively similar across the animal kingdom.

Organisms in the animal kingdom are classified based on their body morphology and development. True animals are divided into those with radial versus bilateral symmetry. Animals with three germ layers, called triploblasts, are further characterized by the presence or absence of an internal body cavity called a coelom. Animals with a body cavity may be either coelomates or pseudocoelomates, depending on which tissue gives rise to the coelom. Coelomates are further divided into two groups called protostomes and deuterostomes, based on a number of developmental characteristics.