Are insects animals? What is an animal?

What is an animal?
Animals include any member of the Animal Kingdom, also known as Kingdom Animalia.

Are insects animals?
Yes, insects are animals. In fact, most species of animals are insects and insects play several crucial roles such as maintaining the health of ecosystems, pollinating plants (i.e. contributing to the production of most of the food we eat), and affecting the entire existence of species, including humans.

Mnemonic device to remember KPCOFGS taxonomy
The Animal Kingdom is first broken down into groups called phyla (singular: phylum). The largest phylum is known as Arthropoda and its members are called arthropods. Arthropod comes from the Greek "arthro," meaning joint, and "pod," meaning foot.

Insects (Class Insecta) belong to Phylum Arthropoda and are the largest group of arthropods with more than a million described species.

Examples of insects: bees, beetles, caterpillars, wasps, ants, flies, crickets, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, mosquitoes, mantids, silverfish, and many others

More examples of arthropods:
There are also arthropods that are not insects like centipedes (chilopods), millipedes (diplopods), spiders (arachnids), ticks (arachnids), crabs (crustaceans), lobsters (crustaceans), and crayfish (crustaceans).

Characteristics of Arthropods
Arthropods share features that make them unique from other phyla like having jointed limbs, segmented bodies, and a hard, protective outer covering that also serves as their skeleton (chitinous exoskeleton).

General Characteristics of Animals

  • Multicellular - Animals are made up of many complex cells.
  • Eukaryotic - Animals are composed of eukaryotic cells which have a membrane-bound nucleus and organelles and are enclosed by a plasma membrane. Animal cells do not have a rigid cell wall like plant, algal, fungal, and bacterial cells do.
  • Heterotrophic - Animals require a food source for energy and nutrition.
  • Sexual Reproduction - Most animals reproduce sexually. An offspring is produced through the fusion of haploid gametes (egg and sperm) from each parent to form a diploid zygote (fertilized egg).
  • Mobility - Whether foraging for food, escaping a stressful environment, seeking shade or shelter, animals are capable of movement at some stage of their lives.
  • Nervous System - Nearly all animals have a nervous system, even insects. The nervous system serves as the body's control center and its basic units are called neurons (nerve cells). Essentially, the nervous system allows animals to sense and respond to stimuli (internal or external changes) and provides coordination and communication between different parts of the body.

More examples of animals:
Animals include birds, sharks, gorillas, cheetahs, elephants, and even the beings humans may regard as "pests," "products," or "food," such as rats, foxes, cows, pigs, chickens, shrimp, fish, and many others. Despite our outward appearances, man-made materials, and the like, let's not forget that humans are animals too.


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