Kingdom (King)
Phylum (Philip)
Class (came)
Order (over)
Family (for)
Genus (good)
Species (spaghetti)
As you move from Kingdom to Species, there is a decrease in
numbers and an increase in similarity. As you move from Species to
Kingdom there is an increase in numbers and a decrease in similarity.
Vertebrates and Invertebrates
The major characteristic that divides the animal kingdom is a
backbone. It divides animals into two main groups called vertebrates
and invertebrates.
Invertebrates are animals without backbones. This group
includes the amoeba, sponges, worms, centipedes, starfish,
mollusks, and insects. There are many more invertebrates than
vertebrates. In fact, invertebrates make up about 90 percent of all
Vertebrates are animals with backbones that surround their
nerve cords. The nerve cord is found along the back of an animal.
Small bones called vertebrae make up the backbone.
The bodies of most vertebrates have a head and a trunk. Many
vertebrates have two pairs of limbs attached to the trunk. A person’s
limbs are arms and legs.
The ribs and bones which support the limbs are connected to
the backbone. These bones give the body its shape and make up the
Types of Characteristics
Physical Characteristics: describe the structure and appearance of an
organism. Skeletal structure and hair colour are examples of physical
Behavioral Characteristics: describe the organism’s actions.
Movement and feeding habits are behavioral. Behaviour may be
learned or instinctual.
Static Characteristics: remain the same over time. Fingerprints and
DNA samples are static characteristics used to identify people.
Dynamic Characteristics: change over time as an organism ages or
as situations change. Some physical characteristics (hair colour, size)
and behavioural characteristics are dynamic.
Some adaptations are physical or structural. These adaptations
allow animals to survive in their environment by allowing them to
survive the climate, find food and shelter and defend themselves
against predators.
Some adaptations are behavioral. These are activities that
animals do to help them survive. These behaviors are either taught to
them by their parents or they are born with them (instinct). For
example, how an animal behaves when threatened or scared is a
behavioral adaptation. Some animals have adapted mimicry, which
means they can sound, look or act like other animals.
Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. Biodiversity includes
the diversity of individuals, species and ecosystems (a system that
consists of living organisms and their environment which interact
together). Biodiversity is important to the health of our planet.
Biodiversity includes variety within each species of plant and
animal. Biodiversity within species is important for maintaining that
species. For example, because of genetic differences, not all
squirrels are affected equally by infectious diseases. Biodiversity is
also important within and among communities. For example, having a
variety of species of wheat allows for some part of the crop to survive
adverse (poor weather) conditions.
Benefits and Consequences of Biodiversity
Human societies benefit greatly as a result of biodiversity.
Thousands of products such as food, clothing, medicine and building
materials come from plants and animals. Everyday products come
from a diversity of organisms (pain relievers are derived from the bark
of the white willow tree; tofu is made from soybeans; silk is made
from silkworm cocoons; shampoos, toothpastes, and deodorants
contain pollen collected by bees.
Imagine that a local forest is slated to be cut down to make
room for a new shopping plaza. A positive aspect is that a community
will have access to goods and services in the new shopping plaza
that were not there before, however, a negative aspect is that getting
the land for the shopping plaza means losing a local forest. As a
result, the perspectives of the developer of the shopping plaza,
people concerned about the environment, and residents of the local
community might be similar or different. In order to make others
aware of an issue like the new shopping plaza, we could write a letter
or send an email to the local newspaper, the mayor, or our Member
of Parliament.
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