A hallmark trait of animals is specialized structures that are differentiated to perform unique functions. As multicellular organisms, most animals develop specialized cells that group together into tissues with specialized functions. A tissue is a collection of similar cells that had a common embryonic origin. There are four main types of animal tissues: nervous, muscle, connective, and epithelial. Nervous tissue contains neurons, or nerve cells, which transmit nerve impulses. Muscle tissue contracts to cause all types of body movement from locomotion of the organism to movements within the body itself. Animals also have specialized connective tissues that provide many functions, including transport and structural support. Examples of connective tissues include blood and bone. Connective tissue is comprised of cells separated by extracellular material made of organic and inorganic materials, such as the protein and mineral deposits of bone. Epithelial tissue covers the internal and external surfaces of organs inside the animal body and the external surface of the body of the organism.
View this video (http://openstaxcollege.org/l/saving_life2) to watch a presentation by biologist E.O. Wilson on the importance of animal diversity.
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