Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College Biology Animal Kingdom Worksheet

Can you help me understand this Biology question?

Exercise 5: The Animal Kingdom:

or Even if it looks like blob of jelly… may still be an animal!

If someone were to ask you what a giraffe looks like, you would most likely be able to bring an image to

mind, and then describe it to the person asking the question. Your mental image of the giraffe would most

likely be one that was visual; we human tend to rely on our eyes and the things we can see directly. But

these direct visual observations are not the only ones that are available to us when we describe an

organism. We could also describe an organism in terms of the way it feels, the way it smells or the

sounds that it makes. But in the end, we all think we know what an animal looks like and how we would

identify one.

It turns out, that identification of animals, and many other organisms is not necessarily straightforward. In

the last exercise you spent time finding and identifying organisms that are invisible to our naked eyes and

which fell into a variety of different classification categories. In this lab exercise, you will find that even

when visible, and when called by a name that we think of as familiar, it is not just how something looks on

the outside that determines how it is classified.


Look at the two organisms in the pictures below. As a biologist, it would be your job to identify

and classify organisms such as these. But where would you start? Could you tell simply based

on their looks whether these would be classified as plant, animal, fungus or protist?

Many of the organisms that we call animals are obvious to most of us. Many of the species that

biologists have named belong to the animal group because they are usually easy to see, and

they have been studied extensively over the past several hundred years. However, there are

some organisms that defy classification simply by the way that they look. To classify some

organisms we must look beyond the surface.

What is an animal?

The word “animal” comes from the Latin word animal, (for which animalia is the plural) and

means “vital breath or soul”. Animals form a major group within the domain Eukarya, the

kingdom Animalia. Most animals are defined by sharing the same group of characteristics:

  • Multi-cellular: Animals are composed of eukaryotic cells that have a plasma membrane
  • surrounding the cells, but no cell walls. Most animals (although not all) are multi-cellular,


    that is, they are made up from more than one cell, and in most cases, the different cells

    carry out different functions for the organism.

  • Heterotrophic: Animals consume their food, feeding on pre-made organic materials to
  • obtain nutrients for growth and development. Most animals feed by ingestion; they take

    in whole parts of other organisms and digest them inside their bodies.

  • Exhibit movement: Most animals are capable of motion due to the presence of nervous
  • and muscle tissue.

  • Exhibit embryonic development: Animals go through a process of development or
  • change from their early life as an embryo, to their final adult form.

    In order to identify and classify animals, we need to look at characteristics that would permit us

    to organize them into groups. Ideally, we would like to look for characteristics that are common

    to the largest number of organisms, and then to find characteristics which fit progressively fewer

    and fewer of the organisms in question. These sets of characteristics could then be used to

    construct a dichotomous key (similar in concept to the one used in last week’s exercise) that

    could be used to identify newly discovered animals. In this exercise, you will be looking at

    certain features of body organization that provide clues to the evolutionary ancestry of the

    animals. These features include

  • Cellular organization
  • Number of tissue layers in the embryo
  • The body plan symmetry
  • Cephalization
  • Segmentation
  • Type of digestive tract
  • Type of body cavity
  • The type of skeleton (if any)
  • The presence of jointed appendages
  • Presence of notochord, dorsal hollow nerve chord and post-anal tail
  • Cellular Organization

    Animals differ in their degree of organization and complexity. The very simplest animals, those

    from phylum Porifera, are composed of cells that are only loosely interconnected, but can exist

    and function independently even if they serve a specific function within the organism. In other

    animals, the cells come together to form tissues, groups of cells that are similar in structure and

    function and which work together to perform a specific activity. All animals except those in

    phylum Porifera have defined tissues.

    All animals except the Porifera and the Cnidarians have tissues that work together to perform

    specific activities forming structures called organs. Organs consist of two or more different

    types of tissues organized into these units that have a characteristic size and shape. Example of

    organs in humans would be heart, brain, lung and skin.

    Embryonic Tissue Layers

    The embryonic tissues layers of an animal are also known as germ layers and give rise to all of

    the tissues and organs in the adult animal. During development, the zygote (the first cell formed

    from the union of an egg and sperm cell) develops in such a way that different layers of tissues

    are formed. The innermost layer is the endoderm that gives rise to organs such as the digestive


    tract and lungs; the mesoderm is a middle layer that gives rise to muscles, the circulatory and

    skeletal system; the ectoderm is the outer layer which forms the nervous system and the

    epidermis of the organism.

    The Porifera do not have tissues, and thus do not have these layers. The Cnidarians have only

    two germ layers, ectoderm and endoderm. All other animals have all three germ layers.

    Body Plan

    An organism’s body plan is the blueprint for the way the body of the organism is laid out. An

    organism’s symmetry, the number of body segments and the number of limbs are all part of its

    body plan.

    Symmetry describes the layout of the body parts on either side of a dividing line or plane.

    Asymmetrical body plan: the

    animal body cannot be divided

    into two equal halves along any

    one plane.

    Radial body plan: any plane

    passing through the center of the

    body divides the animal into two

    equal halves.

    Bilateral body plan: the animal

    body is arranged around a single

    plane that is parallel to the length

    of the animal and divides the

    body into right and left halves that

    are mirror images externally.

    Figure 1: Types of Animal Body Symmetry


    The simplest animals do not show any regular symmetry to their body plan and are therefore

    described as being asymmetrical. These animals are irregular in their shape and size. The only

    phylum of animals that is asymmetrical are the sponges, phylum Porifera.

    Organisms with radial symmetry have body parts that are arranged in a regular, repeating

    pattern around a central axis (think wagon wheel!), or are completely symmetrical about a

    central axis (like a frisbee). These organisms resemble a pie where several planes can be cut

    through the organism to produce roughly identical pieces. These organisms do not have right or

    left sides, but only have a top and bottom surface. Radial symmetry allows an organism to

    detect things coming towards it from any direction. Organisms that are radially symmetrical are

    those from phylum Cnidaria and phylum Echinodermata

    In bilateral symmetry, only a single plane will divide an organism into roughly mirror images

    (this is with respect to external appearance only, not internal structure). Most animals are

    bilaterally symmetric, including humans. The bilateral symmetry supports the formation of a

    central nerve center that contributes to cephalization, the organization of the organism around

    a head region that contains sensory organs.

    Body plans in most species appear to be controlled by a set of genes known as homeobox

    genes. A particular group of these genes called Hox genes, function in patterning the body axis

    of the organism. The genes determine where limbs and other body segments will grow in the

    developing organism. The most commonly seen body plan is the tetrapod, organisms that have

    four feet, legs or leg-like appendages. Tetrapods include all mammals, birds, amphibians and

    reptiles (yes, even snakes are tetrapods by descent). Some of the groups such as the

    cetaceans (whales) and bats have been modified (the front legs are now flippers or wings) but

    they are still tetrapods.


    Cephalization refers to the concentration of nervous tissue at one end of an organism. Over

    many generations, the evolutionary process results in the production of a head region with

    sensory organs. Cephalization is generally associated with the bilateral symmetry. The

    association of cephalization and bilateral symmetry resulted in animals having sensory organs

    facing the direction of movement, allowing the animal to better assess the conditions in the

    direction of movement. These bilaterally symmetrical animals are consequently more active and

    efficient in seeking food and mates, and also in avoiding predators.


    Segmentation is the division of the body along its length into a series of semi-repetitive

    segments. Segmentation results in more effective body movement, and the ability of

    differentiation of individual segments into specialized structures that can perform different

    functions. Annelids, arthropods and chordates are all segmented. In the annelids and

    arthropods, the segmentation can be seen externally, while in the chordates the segmentation is

    reflected internally in the structure of vertebrae, muscles and nerves.


    All animals have to perform some type of digestion process in order to use food to obtain

    energy. In the simplest cases, the digestion is completely intracellular (inside of individual

    cells). Single celled organisms rely on intracellular digestion, as do some multi-cellular


    organisms such as sponges. Sponges obtain tiny particles of food from water that passes

    through its body; cells catch and engulf the food particles, and then digest it inside the cell.

    Intracellular digestion works well for simple organisms, but does not meet the needs of more

    complex ones. Animals such as jellyfish and flatworms have simple sac-like cavities in which

    digestion can occur outside of the cells, but inside of a confined area. These animals have a

    definite mouth that leads to this sac-like cavity. The sac is lined with cells that secrete enzymes

    that break down food within the cavity. This extracellular digestion starts the process, and the

    digested foods are then engulfed by cells where the digestion process is completed. Waste

    products are excreted through the mouth, the same opening where the food entered.

    The most complex digestive systems are one-way digestion tubes with an opening at each

    end. In these cases, the food is completely digested through extracellular processes. Food

    moves into the organism through the mouth, through a series of organs in the digestive tube

    that may be specialized to increase the efficiency of the digestive process. Food moves through

    this one-way tube and its various organs until it has been digested and nutrients have been

    absorbed. Wastes left over from the digestion process are released at the opposite end of the

    tube from where they entered (the anus).

    Body Cavity

    In general, a body cavity is the fluid-filled space between the digestive tract and the outer body

    wall of an animal that has tissues and organs. The body cavity is also known as the coelom.

    Depending upon the type of body cavity, animals can be placed into one of three groups.

    Aceolomate animals, such as the flatworms, do not have a body cavity. Their organs have

    direct contact with the body wall. Semi-solid tissues between the gut and the body wall hold

    their organs in place.

    Figure 2: Body Cavity Types


    Pseudocoelomate animals have a “false body cavity”. A pseudocoelom is not completely lined

    with tissue derived from the mesoderm. Organs are held in place, but not as well organized as

    in animals with a true body cavity.

    Coelomate animals have a “true coelom” or body cavity that is filled with fluid and completely

    lined by tissues derived from the mesoderm. The complete mesoderm lining allows organs to be

    attached to each other, suspending both the gut and the organs. Most bilateral animals are


    Looking at the three groups of worms shown in the diagram above, one can see the differences

    between the three types. The flatworms of phylum Platyhelminthes provide an example of the

    acoelomate animals. The body is filled with tissue that contains the organs. Roundworms

    (phylum Nematoda) are the major group of pseudocoelomate animals. All other animals

    including the segmented worms of phylum Annelida possess true coeloms.


    Skeletal systems in animals are generally divided into three types: external or exoskeleton,

    internal or endoskeleton, and fluid based or hydrostatic. The skeleton provides physical

    support and allows the organism to move. In some cases the skeleton may also provide

    physical protection for the organism.

    A hydrostatic skeleton is a structure found in many soft-bodied animals that consists of a fluidfilled

    cavity surrounded by muscles. The pressure of the fluid and action of the surrounding

    muscles can be used to produce movement. Animals such as worms use their hydrostatic

    skeletons to change their body shape from long and thin to shorter and wider as they move

    forward. Hydrostatic skeletons are found in cnidarians, echinoderms, annelids, nematodes,

    octopuses, and crabs when they have recently molted and lost their external shell.

    Exoskeletons are found in many organisms of the phylum Arthropoda. The exoskeleton is

    composed of primarily of a polysaccharide called chitin that forms a hard, shell-like covering

    on the exterior of the organism. The exoskeleton is not living tissue, and thus cannot grow with

    the organism. The organism must shed it skeleton to grow, in a process known as molting or

    ecdysis. The arthropod secretes a new exoskeleton which hardens around the organism. The

    exoskeleton provides structural support and protection on land, and prevents water loss by

    evaporation. Muscles are attached to internal projections of the exoskeleton that allow the

    animal to move.

    Endoskeletons consist of rigid structures made of either cartilage or bone. These structures

    are found inside the muscles and are connected to the muscles by tendons that allow the

    muscles to move the organism. In some organisms a component of the endoskeleton is a

    backbone composed of a series of segments called vertebrae that enclose the spinal cord. The

    presence or absence of a backbone forms the basis of dividing animals into two groups, the

    invertebrates (which lack a backbone) and the vertebrates (which have a backbone)


    Jointed Appendages

    Appendages are seen in a number of phyla, but the most significant advancement of

    appendage structure appears in the arthropods where the appendages have distinct segments

    or joints that allow them to be used for movement, feeding, reproduction, sensory organs and

    flight. Much of the success of insects and other phyla with jointed appendages can be attributed

    to the presence of these appendages that have evolved into specialized structures that allow a

    wide diversity of tasks to be accomplished. Jointed appendages first appear in the arthropods,

    and are also present in the chordates.

    Notochord, Dorsal Hollow Nerve Chord, Pharyngeal Gill Slits and Post-Anal Tail

    The most complex group of animals, the chordates, is characterized by the presence of four

    major characteristics at some time during their lifecycle. The characteristics may only be present

    during the larval or embryonic stage of the organism’s life cycle. The characteristics include the

    presence of:

  • A notochord; a supportive rod that extends most of the length of the body, found dorsal
  • to the body cavity

  • Pharyngeal gill slits: a series of openings in the pharyngeal regions between the
  • digestive tract and the outside of the body

  • A dorsal, hollow nerve cord with the anterior end enlarged into a brain. It runs along
  • the longitudinal axis of the body, dorsal to the notochord

  • A post anal tail which is supported by the notochord or vertebral column. This is present
  • in humans as the coccyx (tailbone) or in most other mammals as a wagging tail.

    Figure 3: Lancelet Structure

    Members of phylum Chordata may be either invertebrates (such as the tunicate in the left

    picture on the first page of this exercise) or vertebrates (possessing a vertebral column) such as

    humans. The lancelet in Figure 3 is a member of a group of primitive chordates that provide

    information for tracing how vertebrates have evolved and adapted. They display all of the basic

    characteristics of the chordates, with nerve cord running along the back, pharyngeal slits and a

    tail that runs past the anus. Unlike the vertebrates, the dorsal nerve cord is not enclosed in


    bone, but is protected by a simpler notochord made up by a cylinder of cells that are closely

    packed to form a tough rod.

    (By the way, going back to the first page of this exercise, the photo on the left is of an animal

    called a tunicate that is part of the animal kingdom, and the phylum Chordata, the same phylum

    where we humans are grouped. The photo on the right is of a red alga that belongs to the

    kingdom Protista!)

    On the Skill Check worksheet, there are two different activities you must complete for

    this lab.

    Activity 1: You will find a table that will help you organize the information found so far in

    this exercise. Each of the major animal phyla is listed, along with the different scientific

    characteristics that are used to describe animals. For each of the characteristic

    categories in the left hand column, use the information presented in this exercise to

    determine how the characteristic applies to each of the animal phyla. This chart will be

    turned in as part of the lab exercise. All of the information you need to complete the chart

    is in the reading for this exercise. So read carefully in order to complete the chart.

    Activity 2: Animal Kingdom representatives.

    In the lab, you will find groups of organisms that represent each of the different phyla.

    You are going to need to do some research to figure out what animals fit into each

    phylum. Your goal will be to find representatives of the different animal phyla. You can

    use a textbook to do this, or you can do some research online to find the information. For

    each of the phyla named in the table, you should identify an organism that fits into the


    1. In the table, under the phylum name, write the full scientific name (genus and

    species) of the organism you have identified.

    2. Then fill in the remainder of the table on the Skill Check sheet for activity 2. In the

    second column of the table, list any characteristics of the organism that could be

    used to aid in identification of the organism. This means that you want to talk

    about the characteristic information in Activity 1. Then describe the organism in

    terms of obvious characteristics that you can see.

    3. In the third column, you may either insert a picture from online of the organism, or

    you may make your own drawing of the organism based on a photo or photos you

    can see online. If you paste in a photo from an online resource, you must include

    the link to the website where you obtained it.

    Although this exercise may seem simple on the surface, you will have to spend some

    time finding the information necessary to thoroughly complete it.

    Prof. Angela


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