When you look around, you will observe different animals with different structures and forms. As over a million species of animals have been.described till now, the need for classification becomes all the more
important. The classification also helps in assigning a systematic position to newly described species.
BASIS OF CLASSIFICATION :
Inspite of differences in structure and form of different animals, there are.fundamental features common to various individuals in relation to the arrangement of cells, body symmetry, nature of coelom, patterns of digestive, circulatory or reproductive systems. These features are used as the basis of animal classification and some of them are discussed here.
Levels of Organisation :
Though all members of Animalia are multicellular, all of them do not exhibit the same pattern of organisation of cells. For example, in sponges, the cells are arranged as loose cell aggregates, i.e., they exhibit cellular
level of organisation. Some division of labour (activities) occur among the cells. In coelenterates, the arrangement of cells is more complex. Here the cells performing the same function are arranged into tissues, hence is
called tissue level of organisation. A still higher level of organisation, i.e., organ level is exhibited by members of Platyhelminthes and other higher phyla where tissues are grouped together to form organs, each specialised
for a particular function. In animals like Annelids, Arthropods, Molluscs, Echinoderms and Chordates, organs have
associated to form functional systems, each
system concerned with a specific physiological
function. This pattern is called organ system
level of organisation. Organ systems in different groups of animals exhibit various patterns of complexities. For example, the digestive system in Platyhelminthes has only a single opening to the outside of the body that serves as both mouth and anus, and is hence called incomplete. A complete digestive system has two openings, mouth and anus. Similarly, the circulatory system may be of two types:
1.open type in which the blood is pumped
out of the heart and the cells and tissues are
directly bathed in it and
2. closed type in which the blood is circulated
through a series of vessels of varying diameters (arteries, veins and capillaries).
Animals can be categorised on the basis of their symmetry. Sponges are mostly asymmetrical, i.e., any plane that passes through the centre does not divide them into equal halves. When any plane passing through the central axis of the body divides the organism into two identical halves, it is called radial symmetry. Coelenterates, ctenophores and echinoderms have this kind of body plan . Animals like annelids, arthropods, etc., where the body can be divided into identical left and right halves in only one plane, exhibit bilateral symmetry .
Diploblastic and Triploblastic Organisation :
Animals in which the cells are arranged in two
embryonic layers, an external ectoderm and
an internal endoderm, are called diploblastic
animals, e.g., coelenterates. An undifferentiated
layer, mesoglea, is present in between the
ectoderm and the endoderm .Those animals in which the developing embryo has a third germinal layer, mesoderm, in between the ectoderm and endoderm, are called triploblastic animals (platyhelminthes to chordates.
Presence or absence of a cavity between the body wall and the gut wall is very important in
classification. The body cavity, which is lined
by mesoderm is called coelom. Animals
possessing coelom are called coelomates, e.g.,
annelids, molluscs, arthropods, echinoderms,
hemichordates and chordates . In some animals, the body cavity is not lined by
mesoderm, instead, the mesoderm is present as scattered pouches in between the ectoderm and endoderm. Such a body cavity is called
pseudocoelom and the animals possessing them are called pseudocoelomates, e.g.,
aschelminthes The animals in which the body cavity is absent are called acoelomates, e.g., platyhelminthes
In some animals, the body is externally and internally divided into segments with a serial repetition of at least some organs. For example, in earthworm, the body shows this pattern called metameric segmentation and the phenomenon is known as metamerism.
Notochord is a mesodermally derived rod-like structure formed on the dorsal side during embryonic development in some animals. Animals with notochord are called chordates and those animals which do not form this
structure are called non-chordates, e.g., porifera to echinoderms.
Phylum – Porifera
Members of this phylum are commonly known
as sponges. They are generally marine and mostly asymmetrical animals . These are
primitive multicellular animals and have cellular
level of organisation. Sponges have a water
transport or canal system. Water enters through minute pores (ostia) in the body wall into a central cavity, spongocoel, from where it goes out through the osculum. This pathway of water transport is helpful in food gathering, respiratory exchange and removal of waste. Choanocytes or collar cells line the spongocoel and the canals. Digestion is intracellular. The body is supported by a skeleton made up of spicules or spongin fibres. Sexes are not separate (hermaphrodite), i.e., eggs and sperms are produced by the same individual. Sponges reproduce asexually by fragmentation and sexually by formation of gametes. Fertilisation is internal and development
is indirect having a larval stage which is
morphologically distinct from the adult. Examples: Sycon (Scypha), Spongilla (Fresh water sponge) and Euspongia (Bath sponge).
Phylum – Coelenterata (Cnidaria) :
They are aquatic, mostly marine, sessile or free-swimming, radially symmetrical animals The name cnidaria is derived from the cnidoblasts or cnidocytes (which contain the stinging capsules or nematocytes) present on the tentacles and the body. Cnidoblasts are used
for anchorage, defense and for the capture of prey . Cnidarians exhibit tissue level of organisation and are diploblastic. They have a central gastro-vascular cavity with a single opening, mouth on hypostome. Digestion is extracellular and intracellular. Some of the cnidarians, e.g., corals have a skeleton composed of calcium carbonate. Cnidarians exhibit two basic body forms called polyp and medusa The former is a sessile and cylindrical form like Hydra, Adamsia, etc. whereas, the
latter is umbrella-shaped and free-swimming like Aurelia or jelly fish. Those cnidarians which exist in both forms exhibit alternation of
generation (Metagenesis), i.e., polyps produce medusae asexually and medusae form the polyps sexually (e.g., Obelia). Examples: Physalia (Portuguese man-of-war), Adamsia (Sea anemone), Pennatula (Sea-pen), Gorgonia (Sea-fan) and Meandrina (Brain coral).
Phylum – Ctenophora :
Ctenophores, commonly known as sea walnuts or comb jellies are exclusively marine, radially symmetrical, diploblastic organisms with tissue level of organisation. The body bears eight external rows of ciliated comb plates, which help in locomotion . Digestion is both extracellular and intracellular. Bioluminescence (the property of a living organism to emit light) is well-marked in ctenophores. Sexes
are not separate. Reproduction takes place only by sexual means. Fertilisation is external with indirect development. Examples: Pleurobrachia and Ctenoplana.
Phylum – Platyhelminthes :
They have dorso-ventrally flattened body, hence are called flatworms. These are mostly endoparasites found in animals including human beings. Flatworms are bilaterally
symmetrical, triploblastic and acoelomate animals with organ level of organisation. Hooks and suckers are present in the parasitic forms. Some of them absorb nutrients from the host
directly through their body surface. Specialised cells called flame cells help in osmoregulation and excretion. Sexes are not separate. Fertilisation is internal and development is through many larval stages. Some members like Planaria possess high regeneration capacity. Examples: Taenia (Tapeworm), Fasciola (Liver fluke).
Phylum – Aschelminthes :
The body of the aschelminthes is circular in
cross-section, hence, the name roundworms. They may be freeliving, aquatic and terrestrial or parasitic in plants and animals. Roundworms have organ-system level of body.organisation. They are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic and pseudocoelomate animals.Alimentary canal is complete with a well-developed muscular pharynx. An excretory tube removes body wastes from the body cavity through the excretory pore. Sexes are separate (dioecious), i.e., males and females are distinct. Often females are longer than males. Fertilisation is internal and development may be direct (the young ones resemble the adult) or indirect. Examples : Ascaris (Round Worm), Wuchereria (Filaria worm), Ancylostoma (Hookworm).
Phylum – Annelida :
They may be aquatic (marine and fresh water) or terrestrial; free-living, and sometimes parasitic. They exhibit organ-system level of body.organisation and bilateral symmetry. They are triploblastic, metamerically segmented and
coelomate animals. Their body surface is
distinctly marked out into segments or
metameres and, hence, the phylum name
Annelida (Latin, annulus : little ring).They possess longitudinal and circular muscles
which help in locomotion. Aquatic annelids like
Nereis possess lateral appendages, parapodia,
which help in swimming. A closed circulatory
system is present. Nephridia (sing. nephridium)
help in osmoregulation and excretion. Neural
system consists of paired ganglia (sing. ganglion) connected by lateral nerves to a double ventral nerve cord. Nereis, an aquatic form, is dioecious,but earthworms and leeches are monoecious. Reproduction is sexual.
Examples : Nereis, Pheretima (Earthworm) and
Hirudinaria (Blood sucking leech).
Phylum – Arthropoda :
This is the largest phylum of Animalia which
includes insects. Over two-thirds of all named
species on earth are arthropods They have organ-system level of organisation.
They are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic,
segmented and coelomate animals. The body
of arthropods is covered by chitinous
exoskeleton. The body consists of head, thorax
and abdomen. They have jointed appendages
(arthros-joint, poda-appendages). Respiratory
organs are gills, book gills, book lungs or
tracheal system. Circulatory system is of open
type. Sensory organs like antennae, eyes
(compound and simple), statocysts or balance
organs are present. Excretion takes place
through malpighian tubules. They are mostly
dioecious. Fertilisation is usually internal.
They are mostly oviparous. Development may
be direct or indirect. Examples: Economically important insects – Apis (Honey bee), Bombyx (Silkworm), Laccifer (Lac insect) Vectors – Anopheles, Culex and Aedes (Mosquitoes)
Gregarious pest – Locusta (Locust)
Living fossil – Limulus (King crab).
Phylum – Mollusca :
This is the second largest animal phylum. Molluscs are terrestrial or aquatic (marine or fresh water) having an organ-system level of organisation. They are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic and coelomate animals. Body is covered by a calcareous shell and is unsegmented with a distinct head, muscular foot and visceral hump. A soft and spongy layer of skin forms a mantle over the visceral hump. The space between the hump and the mantle is called the mantle cavity in which feather like gills are present. They have respiratory and excretory functions. The anterior head region has sensory tentacles. The mouth contains a file-like rasping organ for feeding, called radula. They are usually dioecious and oviparous with indirect
development. Examples: Pila (Apple snail), Pinctada (Pearl oyster), Sepia (Cuttlefish), Loligo (Squid), Octopus (Devil fish), Aplysia (Sea-hare), Dentalium (Tusk shell) and Chaetopleura (Chiton).
Phylum – Echinodermata :
These animals have an endoskeleton of calcareous ossicles and, hence, the name Echinodermata (Spiny bodied, All are marine with organ-system level of organisation.
The adult echinoderms are radially symmetrical but larvae are bilaterally symmetrical. They are triploblastic and coelomate animals. Digestive system is complete with mouth on the lower (ventral) side and anus on the upper (dorsal)
side. The most distinctive feature of echinoderms is the presence of water vascular system which helps in locomotion, capture and transport of food and respiration. An excretory system is absent. Sexes are separate. Reproduction is sexual. Fertilisation is usually external. Development is indirect with free-swimming larva. Examples: Asterias (Star fish), Echinus (Sea urchin), Antedon (Sea lily), Cucumaria (Sea cucumber) and Ophiura (Brittle star).
Phylum – Hemichordata :
Hemichordata was earlier considered as a sub-phylum under phylum Chordata. But now it is placed as a separate phylum under non-chordata. This phylum consists of a small group of worm-like marine animals with organ-system level of organisation. They
are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic and coelomate animals. The body is cylindrical and is composed of an anterior proboscis, a collar and a long trunk Circulatory system is of open type. Respiration takes place through gills. Excretory organ is proboscis gland. Sexes are
separate. Fertilisation is external. Development is indirect. Examples: Balanoglossus and Saccoglossus.
Phylum – Chordata
Animals belonging to phylum Chordata are fundamentally characterised by the presence of a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord and paired pharyngeal gill slits These are bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic, coelomate with organ-system level of organisation. They
possess a post anal tail and a closed circulatory system . Phylum Chordata is divided into three subphyla: Urochordata or Tunicata,
Cephalochordata and Vertebrata.
Subphyla Urochordata and
Cephalochordata are often referred to as
protochordates and are exclusively marine. In Urochordata, notochord is present only in larval tail, while in Cephalochordata, it extends from head to tail region and is persistent throughout their life. Examples: Urochordata – Ascidia, Salpa, Doliolum; Cephalochordata – Branchiostoma (Amphioxus or Lancelet).
The members of subphylum Vertebrata
possess notochord during the embryonic
period. The notochord is replaced by a
cartilaginous or bony vertebral column in the
adult. Thus all vertebrates are chordates but
all chordates are not vertebrates. Besides the
basic chordate characters, vertebrates have a
ventral muscular heart with two, three or four
chambers, kidneys for excretion and
osmoregulation and paired appendages which
may be fins or limbs.
CLASS – CYCLOSTOMATA :
All living members of the class Cyclostomata are ectoparasites on some fishes. They have an
elongated body bearing 6-15 pairs of gill slits
for respiration. Cyclostomes have a sucking and circular mouth without jaws Their
body is devoid of scales and paired fins.
Cranium and vertebral column are cartilaginous. Circulation is of closed type.
Cyclostomes are marine but migrate for
spawning to fresh water. After spawning, within
a few days, they die. Their larvae, after
metamorphosis, return to the ocean. Examples: Petromyzon (Lamprey) and Myxine (Hagfish).
Class – Chondrichthyes :
They are marine animals with streamlined body
and have cartilaginous endoskeleton. Mouth is located ventrally.
Notochord is persistent throughout life. Gill
slits are separate and without operculum (gill
cover). The skin is tough, containing minute
placoid scales. Teeth are modified placoid
scales which are backwardly directed. Their
jaws are very powerful. These animals are
predaceous. Due to the absence of air bladder,
they have to swim constantly to avoid sinking. Heart is two-chambered (one auricle and one ventricle).
Some of them have electric organs (e.g., Torpedo) and some possess poison sting (e.g., Trygon). They are cold blooded (poikilothermous) animals, i.e., they lack the capacity to regulate their body temperature. Sexes are separate. In males pelvic fins bear claspers. They have internal fertilisation and many of them are viviparous. Examples: Scoliodon (Dog fish), Pristis (Saw fish), Carcharodon (Great white shark), Trygon (Sting ray).
Class – Osteichthyes :
It includes both marine and fresh water fishes with bony endoskeleton. Their body is streamlined. Mouth is mostly terminal . They have four pairs of gills which are covered by an operculum on each side. Skin is covered with cycloid/ctenoid scales. Air bladder Is present which regulates buoyancy. Heart is two-
chambered (one auricle and one ventricle). They are cold-blooded animals. Sexes are separate. Fertilisation is usually external. They are mostly oviparous and development is direct. Examples: Marine – Exocoetus (Flying fish), Hippocampus (Sea horse); Freshwater – Labeo (Rohu), Catla (Katla), Clarias (Magur); Aquarium – Betta (Fighting fish), Pterophyllum (Angel fish).
Class – Amphibia :
As the name indicates (Gr., Amphi : dual, bios, life), amphibians can live in aquatic as well as terrestrial habitats .Most of them have two pairs of limbs. Body is divisible into head and trunk. Tail may be present in some. The amphibian skin is moist (without scales). The eyes have eyelids. A tympanum represents the ear. Alimentary canal, urinary and
reproductive tracts open into a common chamber called cloaca which opens to the exterior. Respiration is by gills, lungs and through skin. The heart is three- chambered (two auricles and one ventricle). These are
cold-blooded animals. Sexes are separate. Fertilisation is external. They are oviparous and development is indirect.
Examples: Bufo (Toad), Rana (Frog), Hyla (Tree frog), Salamandra (Salamander), Ichthyophis (Limbless amphibia).
Class – Reptilia :
The class name refers to their creeping or crawling mode of locomotion (Latin, repere or reptum, to creep or crawl). They are mostly terrestrial animals and their body is covered by dry and cornified skin, epidermal
scales or scutes . They do not have external ear openings.Tympanum represents ear. Limbs, when present, are two pairs. Heart is
usually three-chambered, but four-chambered in crocodiles. Reptiles are poikilotherms. Snakes and lizards shed their scales as skin cast. Sexes are separate. Fertilisation is internal. They are oviparous and development
is direct. Examples: Chelone (Turtle), Testudo (Tortoise), Chameleon (Tree lizard),
Calotes (Garden lizard), Crocodilus (Crocodile), Alligator (Alligator). Hemidactylus (Wall lizard), Poisonous snakes – Naja (Cobra), Bangarus
(Krait), Vipera (Viper).
Class – Aves :
The characteristic features of Aves (birds) are the presence of feathers and most of them can fly except flightless birds (e.g., Ostrich). They possess beak . The forelimbs are modified into wings. The hind limbs generally have scales and are modified for walking, swimming or clasping the tree branches. Skin is dry without glands except the oil gland at the
base of the tail. Endoskeleton is fully ossified (bony) and the long bones are hollow with air cavities (pneumatic). The digestive tract of birds has additional chambers, the crop and gizzard. Heart is completely four- chambered. They are warm-blooded (homoiothermous) animals, i.e., they are able to maintain a constant body temperature. Respiration is by lungs. Air sacs connected to lungs supplement respiration. Sexes are
separate. Fertilisation is internal. They are oviparous and development is direct. Examples : Corvus (Crow), Columba (Pigeon), Psittacula (Parrot), Struthio (Ostrich), Pavo (Peacock), Aptenodytes (Penguin), Neophron (Vulture).
Class – Mammalia :
They are found in a variety of habitats – polar ice caps, deserts, mountains, forests, grasslands and dark caves. Some of them have adapted to fly or live in water. The most unique mammalian characteristic is the presence
of milk producing glands (mammary glands) by which the young ones are nourished. They have two pairs of limbs, adapted for walking, running, climbing, burrowing, swimming or flying The skin of mammals is unique in possessing hair. External ears or pinnae are
present. Different types of teeth are present in the jaw. Heart is four-chambered. They are homoiothermous. Respiration is by lungs. Sexes are separate and fertilisation is internal. They are viviparous with few exceptions and development is direct. Examples: Oviparous-Ornithorhynchus (Platypus); Viviparous –
Macropus (Kangaroo), Pteropus (Flying fox), Camelus (Camel), Macaca (Monkey), Rattus (Rat), Canis (Dog), Felis (Cat), Elephas (Elephant), Equus (Horse), Delphinus (Common dolphin), Balaenoptera (Blue whale),
Panthera tigris (Tiger), Panthera leo (Lion).