The name “arthropoda” means “jointed legs,” which aptly describes each of the enormous number of species belonging to this phylum. Arthropoda dominate the animal kingdom with an estimated 85 percent of known species, with many still undiscovered or undescribed. The principal characteristics of all the animals in this phylum are functional segmentation of the body and the presence of jointed appendages (Figure 15.18). As members of Ecdysozoa, arthropods also have an exoskeleton made principally of chitin. Arthropoda is the largest phylum in the animal world in terms of numbers of species, and insects form the single largest group within this phylum. Arthropods are true coelomate animals and exhibit prostostomic development.
Figure 15.18 Trilobites, like the one in this fossil, are an extinct group of arthropods. (credit: Kevin Walsh)