Vertebrates - 18-131

By: Usama Ahmad
What are vertebrates?
Vertebrates are any animals that have a
backbone. The five categories of vertebrates
• Fishes (trout, halibut)
• Amphibians (frog, salamander)
• Reptiles (crocodile, snake)
• Birds (sparrow, pigeon)
• Mammals (human, horse)
Fish have:
• Slimy, bony scales (for protection)
• Gills (for breathing)
• Fins (for swimming)
• Thousands of eggs
Fish are also ectothermic (cold-blooded), which
means that they depend on the outside
temperature for their body temperature.
Amphibians have:
• Slimy skin
• Fish tails when young
• (for swimming)
Four legs when adult
(for moving)
• Hundreds of eggs
Amphibians, like fish, are cold-blooded. Most
amphibians go through metamorphosis, where they
develop lungs and legs.
Reptiles have:
• Dry, leathery scales
• Small brains
• Lots of eggs
Reptiles are also amniotes, meaning that their
eggs have multiple protective layers.
Birds have:
• Two wings to fly
• Feathers
• No teeth (beaks instead)
• A dozen or so eggs
Birds are the only category of vertebrates who
have feathers instead of hair or scales.
Mammals have:
• Dry hair (for warmth)
• Four limbs
• Don’t lay eggs, live birth
• Milk provided for young
Mammals are the only group of vertebrates with
REAL hair. Our hair is dead cords of keratin,
which is what our nails are made of.
Some strange animals …
In the Amazon Rainforest, there is a very small fish called a
“toothpick fish” because of its small and slender shape. It
lives very deep in the river and finds its victims by traces
of fish pee and ammonia. Then, when the victim opens its
gills to breath, it rushes in and extends sharp spines to stay
in place. Then, it swells up with the hosts blood and leaves.
More strange animals …
In China, there is an amphibian known as the
“Chinese Giant Salamander”, a nocturnal
animal that eats fish
and crabs
among other things.
They have
special sensors in
their head
which can detect the
tiniest motion
made by prey. These sensors make up for the
salamanders poor vision.
Even more …
The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly
upside-down, backwards, forwards, hover and
sideways! They are the smallest bird and the
smallest animal with a backbone. They weigh
from 2 to 20 grams. Their heart can beat up to
1,260 times a second!
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