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Diverse animals
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia

The animal kingdom, or Animalia, contains living things which do not use light to get energy and grow, as plants do. The study of animals is called zoology.[1][2]

In one way or another, animals get their energy from other living things. They usually eat other living things, but some are parasites, or have photosynthetic protists as symbionts.

Like plants, animals are multicellular eukaryotic organisms, but animals are motile, meaning they can move around. Animals take in oxygen, and give out carbon dioxide. This is part of their metabolism (chemical working). In both these ways they are different from plants. Also, the cells of animals have different cell membranes to other eukaryotes like plants and fungi.

Grouping animals

There are many types of animals. The common animals most people know are only about 3% of the animal kingdom. When biologists look at animals, they find things that certain animals have in common. They use this to group the animals in a biological classification.

Animals can mainly be divided into two main groups, the invertebrates, and the vertebrates. The vertebrates are animals with a backbone, or spine, and the invertebrates without.

Vertebrates are:

Some invertebrates are:

Life styles

The animal mode of nutrition is called heterotrophic because they get their food from other living organisms. Some animals eat only plants; they are called herbivores. Other animals eat only meat and are called carnivores. Animals that eat both plants and meat are called omnivores.

The environments animals live in vary greatly. By the process of evolution, animals get adapted to the habitats they live in. Obviously, a fish is adapted to its life in water, and a spider is adapted to a life catching and eating insects. A mammal living on the savannahs of East Africa lives quite a different life from a mammal like a porpoise catching fish in the sea.

The fossil record of animals goes back about 600 million years to the Ediacaran period. During the whole of this long period of time animals have been constantly changing, so that the animals alive on Earth today are very different from those on the edges of the sea-floor in the Ediacaran. The study of ancient life is called palaeontology.

Related pages


  1. Ville C.A; Walker W.F. & Barnes R.D. 1984. General zoology. Saunders
  2. Hamilton, Gina. Kingdoms of life – Animals. Lorenz Educational Press. ISBN 978-1-4291-1610-7