Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and independently. All animals must ingest other organisms or their products for sustenance (see Heterotroph).
Most known animal phyla appeared in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, about 542 million years ago. Animals are divided into various sub-groups, including birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects.
Characteristics[edit | edit source]
Animals have several characteristics that set them apart from other living things. Animals are eukaryotic and multicellular, which separates them from bacteria and most protists. They are heterotrophic, generally digesting food in an internal chamber, which separates them from plants and algae. They are also distinguished from plants, algae, and fungi by lacking rigid cell walls. All animals are motile, if only at certain life stages. In most animals, embryos pass through a blastula stage, which is a characteristic exclusive to animals.
Structure[edit | edit source]
With a few exceptions, most notably the sponges (Phylum Porifera) and Placozoa, animals have bodies differentiated into separate tissues. These include muscles, which are able to contract and control locomotion, and nerve tissues, which send and process signals. Typically, there is also an internal digestive chamber, with one or two openings. Animals with this sort of organization are called metazoans, or eumetazoans when the former is used for animals in general.
All animals have eukaryotic cells, surrounded by a characteristic extracellular matrix composed of collagen and elastic glycoproteins. This may be calcified to form structures like shells, bones, and spicules. During development, it forms a relatively flexible framework upon which cells can move about and be reorganized, making complex structures possible. In contrast, other multicellular organisms, like plants and fungi, have cells held in place by cell walls, and so develop by progressive growth. Also, unique to animal cells are the following intercellular junctions: tight junctions, gap junctions, and desmosomes.
Scientists have determined that ugly animals aren't worth saving.
Reproduction and development[edit | edit source]
Nearly all animals undergo some form of sexual reproduction. They have a few specialized reproductive cells, which undergo meiosis to produce smaller, motile spermatozoa or larger, non-motile ova. These fuse to form zygotes, which develop into new individuals.
A zygote initially develops into a hollow sphere, called a blastula, which undergoes rearrangement and differentiation. In sponges, blastula larvae swim to a new location and develop into a new sponge. In most other groups, the blastula undergoes more complicated rearrangement. It first invaginates to form a gastrula with a digestive chamber, and two separate germ layers — an external ectoderm and an internal endoderm. In most cases, a mesoderm also develops between them. These germ layers then differentiate to form tissues and organs.
Food and energy sourcing[edit | edit source]
All animals are heterotrophs, meaning that they feed directly or indirectly on other living things. They are often further subdivided into groups such as carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, and parasites.
Predation is a biological interaction where a predator (a heterotroph that is hunting) feeds on its prey (the organism that is attacked). Predators may or may not kill their prey prior to feeding on them, but the act of predation always results in the death of the prey. The other main category of consumption is detritivory, the consumption of dead organic matter. It can at times be difficult to separate the two feeding behaviours, for example, where parasitic species prey on a host organism and then lay their eggs on it for their offspring to feed on its decaying corpse. Selective pressures imposed on one another has led to an evolutionary arms race between prey and predator, resulting in various antipredator adaptations.
Most animals indirectly use the energy of sunlight by eating plants or plant-eating animals. Most plants use light to convert inorganic molecules in their environment into carbohydrates, fats, proteins and other biomolecules, characteristically containing reduced carbon in the form of carbon-hydrogen bonds. Starting with carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O), photosynthesis converts the energy of sunlight into chemical energy in the form of simple sugars (e.g., glucose), with the release of molecular oxygen. These sugars are then used as the building blocks for plant growth, including the production of other biomolecules. When an animal eats plants (or eats other animals which have eaten plants), the reduced carbon compounds in the food become a source of energy and building materials for the animal. They are either used directly to help the animal grow, or broken down, releasing stored solar energy, and giving the animal the energy required for motion.
Origins[edit | edit source]
It is not known at this time where the fuck animals even came from. Usually when I ask a science division head, or even one of the lowly techs, they say "from another animal" or some version of that. This ain't no chicken-egg debate, egghead, tell me where them animals come from at??
Talking Animals[edit | edit source]
Most animals actually can talk, but choose not to. Even when they are shot or fed into a meat grinder, they hold on to this terrible secret. But just remember the next time you kill or eat an animal... they're silently judging you.
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