Portal Animals

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Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms in the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, have myocytes and are able to move, can reproduce sexually, and grow from a hollow sphere of cells, the blastula, during embryonic development. Animals form a single clade.

Over 1.5 million living animal species have been described—of which around 1.05 million are insects, over 85,000 are molluscs, and around 65,000 are vertebrates. It has been estimated there are as many as 7.77 million animal species on Earth. Animals' body lengths range from 8.5 μm (0.00033 in) to 33.6 m (110 ft). They have complex ecologies and interactions with each other and their environments, forming intricate food webs. The scientific study of animals is known as zoology, and the study of animal behaviors is known as ethology.

Most living animal species belong to the infrakingdom Bilateria, a highly proliferative clade whose members have a bilaterally symmetric body plan. Extant bilaterians include the basal group Xenacoelomorpha, but the vast majority belong to two large superphyla: the protostomes, which include phyla such as arthropods, molluscs, flatworms, annelids and nematodes, etc.; and the deuterostomes, which include the three phyla echinoderms, hemichordates and chordates, the latter with the vertebrates being its most successful subphylum. Precambrian life forms interpreted as early complex animals were already present in the Ediacaran biota of the late Proterozoic, but fossils of primitive sponge and other speculative early animals have been dated to as early as the Tonian period. Nearly all modern animal phyla became clearly established in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, which began around 539 million years ago (Mya), and most classes during the Ordovician radiation 485.4 Mya. 6,331 groups of genes common to all living animals have been identified; these may have arisen from a single common ancestor that lived 650 Mya during the Cryogenian period. (Full article...)

Zoology (/zˈɒləi/) is the scientific study of animals. Its studies include the structure, embryology, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct, and how they interact with their ecosystems. Zoology is one of the primary branches of biology. The term is derived from Ancient Greek ζῷον, zōion ('animal'), and λόγος, logos ('knowledge', 'study'). (Full article...)

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Vocalizations at a colony on Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand

The Australasian gannet (Morus serrator), also known as the Australian gannet or tākapu, is a large seabird of the booby and gannet family, Sulidae. Adults are mostly white, with black flight feathers at the wingtips and lining the trailing edge of the wing. The central tail feathers are also black. The head is tinged buff-yellow, with a pearly grey bill edged in dark grey or black, and blue-rimmed eyes. Young birds have mottled plumage in their first year, dark above and light below. The head is an intermediate mottled grey, with a dark bill. The birds gradually acquire more white in subsequent seasons until they reach maturity after five years.

The species range over water above the continental shelf along the southern and eastern Australian coastline, from Steep Point in Western Australia to Rockhampton, Queensland, as well as the North and South Islands of New Zealand, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Nesting takes place in colonies along the coastlines of New Zealand, Victoria and Tasmania—mostly on offshore islands, although there are several mainland colonies in both countries. Highly territorial when breeding, the Australasian gannet performs agonistic displays to defend its nest. Potential and mated pairs engage in courtship and greeting displays. The nest is a cup-shaped mound composed of seaweed, earth, and other debris, built by the female from material mainly gathered by the male. A single pale blue egg is laid yearly, though lost eggs may be replaced. The chick is born featherless but is soon covered in white down. Fed regurgitated fish by its parents, it grows rapidly and outweighs the average adult when it fledges. (Full article...)

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Gaboon viper, its eye concealed by a disruptive mask

Disruptive eye masks are camouflage markings that conceal the eyes of an animal from its predators or prey. They are used by prey, to avoid being seen by predators, and by predators to help them approach their prey.

The eye has a distinctive shape and dark coloration dictated by its function, and it is housed in the vulnerable head, making it a natural target for predators. It can be camouflaged by a suitable disruptive pattern arranged to run up to or through the eye, sometimes forming a camouflage eyestripe. The illusion is completed in some animals by a false eye or false head somewhere else on the body, in a form of automimicry. (Full article...)
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The following table lists estimated numbers of described extant species for the animal groups with the largest numbers of species, along with their principal habitats (terrestrial, fresh water, and marine), and free-living or parasitic ways of life. Species estimates shown here are based on numbers described scientifically; much larger estimates have been calculated based on various means of prediction, and these can vary wildly. For instance, around 25,000–27,000 species of nematodes have been described, while published estimates of the total number of nematode species include 10,000–20,000; 500,000; 10 million; and 100 million. Using patterns within the taxonomic hierarchy, the total number of animal species—including those not yet described—was calculated to be about 7.77 million in 2011.

Phylum Example No. of
Species
Land Sea Fresh
water
Free-
living
Parasitic
Annelids 17,000 Yes (soil) Yes 1,750 Yes 400
Arthropods wasp 1,257,000 1,000,000
(insects)
>40,000
(Malac-
ostraca)
94,000 Yes >45,000
Bryozoa 6,000 Yes 60–80 Yes
Chordates green spotted frog facing right 65,000
45,000

23,000

13,000
18,000
9,000
Yes 40
(catfish)
Cnidaria Table coral 16,000 Yes Yes (few) Yes >1,350
(Myxozoa)
Echinoderms 7,500 7,500 Yes
Molluscs snail 85,000
107,000

35,000

60,000
5,000
12,000
Yes >5,600
Nematodes 25,000 Yes (soil) 4,000 2,000 11,000 14,000
Platyhelminthes 29,500 Yes Yes 1,300 Yes

3,000–6,500

>40,000

4,000–25,000

Rotifers 2,000 >400 2,000 Yes
Sponges 10,800 Yes 200-300 Yes Yes
Total number of described extant species as of 2013: 1,525,728

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