Number of families in Animal kingdom

Number of families in Animal kingdom

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I found this question about how many taxonomic families there are. That made me wonder how many are just in the animal kingdom alone. I want to know about families not species. Now the linked question was three years ago, so there should be some new information and numbers. A good answer would preferably include a breakdown of the phyla.

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) is maintained regularly by a consortium of North American governmental agencies, and will give you a list of all the classes, orders, families or genera in any of seven kingdoms they recognize. It might be biased towards North American taxa, but it might be quicker to get a list from then rather than extracting them from Wikipedia.

To help you further, user Rozenn Keribin used an awk script to summarize the number of families per phylum at

Phylum: Myxozoa -- 4
Phylum: Chordata -- 1049
Phylum: Echinodermata -- 139
Phylum: Hemichordata -- 7
Phylum: Xenacoelomorpha -- 9
Phylum: Chaetognatha -- 9
Phylum: Arthropoda -- 2504
Phylum: Kinorhyncha -- 10
Phylum: Loricifera -- 2
Phylum: Nematoda -- 192
Phylum: Nematomorpha -- 3
Phylum: Onychophora -- 2
Phylum: Priapulida -- 3
Phylum: Tardigrada -- 20
Phylum: Annelida -- 142
Phylum: Brachiopoda -- 21
Phylum: Bryozoa -- 133
Phylum: Kamptozoa -- 5
Phylum: Mollusca -- 581
Phylum: Nemertea -- 20
Phylum: Phoronida -- 0
Phylum: Sipuncula -- 6
Phylum: Acanthocephala -- 26
Phylum: Gastrotricha -- 13
Phylum: Gnathostomulida -- 12
Phylum: Micrognathozoa -- 1
Phylum: Orthonectida -- 2
Phylum: Platyhelminthes -- 321
Phylum: Rhombozoa -- 3
Phylum: Rotifera -- 34
Phylum: Cnidaria -- 269
Phylum: Ctenophora -- 19
Phylum: Placozoa -- 0
Phylum: Porifera -- 142
Total -- 5703

Your question immediately made me think of the paper "How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean?", which is about estimating the total number of species based on the rate of discoveries of higher taxa. I imagine writing the paper involved the most thorough investigation of how many taxons there are in any group that you'll find. It's from 2011 so it's not going to include actual new information from the last three years, but given it looks at the rate of discoveries over time you can see the evolution and estimate where things are yourself.

Figure S1 gives the actual plots of number of taxa vs time; from it we can see that Animalia contained a bit over 5000 families (5300 I'd say?) in 2011, with an estimated total number of a bit under 6000 (5700?). So today's number is likely to be within that range.

If you want the actual list per phyla you just need to look at the same sources that were given in the answers to the original question; Wikipedia and the NCBI taxonomy browser (which also links to other resources that might be easier to interpret) have no reason not to be up-to-date.

Class Mammalia: Characters and Classifications | Animal Kingdom

In this article we will discuss about the General Characters and Classifications of Class Mammalia.

General Characteristics of Class Mammalia:

1. These animals are warm blooded, hairy and have mammary or milk producing glands, (mammary glands). They are the only animals which nourish their young ones with milk. There are about 4,000 species of mammals found in the world.

2. They are homoiothermous (warm blooded).

3. Oil glands (sebaceous glands) and sweat glands (sudoriferous glands) are present in the skin.

4. Teeth are of different types (heterodont) and are embedded in the sockets of jaws (the codont). These are developed twice during the life-time of the animal (diphyodont), milk and permanent teeth.

5. Except a few, mammals possess seven cervical (neck) vertebrae.

6. The skull is dicondylic i.e., with two occipital condyles.

7. Respiration is by lungs.

8. They possess a muscular diaphragm dividing trunk into thorax and abdomen.

9. The coelom is divided into four cavities a pericardial cavity lodging the heart, two pleural cavities each containing the lung and an adominal cavity having the rest of viscera.

10. The heart is four chambered. Sinus venosus is absent. The red blood corpuscles are without nucleus. Renal portal system is absent.

11. The brain has large cerebrum and cerebellum. Optic lobes are divided into four lobes called corpora quadrigemina. Corpus callosum connects the two cerebral hemispheres internally.

12. 12 pairs of cranial nerves are present.

13. Each ear consists of three parts: external, middle and internal. Pinna is a part of external ear. Middle ear has 3 bony ear ossicles (malleus— hammer shaped, incus-anvil shaped and stapes-stirrup shaped). Internal ear has organ of Corti, the actual hearing organ.

14. Except egg laying mammals they are viviparous. There are present four embryonic membranes: chorion, amnion, allantois and yolk sac. Except egg laying mammals a well developed placenta is present.

15. Mammals occur in all sorts of habitats. They are dominant animals and are capable to learn because of their better developed brain.

Oviparous – Omithorhynchus (Duck Billed Platypus), Tachyglossus = Echidna (Spiny Anteater).

Viviparous — Macropus (Kangaroo), Pteropus (Large bat), Camelus (Camel), Macaca (Monkey), Rattus (Rat), Canis (Dog), Elephas (Elephant), Felis (Cat) Delphinus (Common dolphin), Equus (Horse), Balaenoptera (Blue whale), Panthera tigns (Tiger), Panthera leo (Lion).

Classifications of Class Mammalia:

Living mammals are divided into two sub-classes.

1. Sub-classI. Prototheria:

Prototherians are considered to be the most primitive mam­mals which are only restricted in Australia and its neighbouring islands (Tasmania New Guinea). Besides egg-laying habit, they have several reptilian characters including a cloaca. They lay eggs containing ample amount of yolk. Subclass prototheria includes one order Monotremata e.g., Omithorhynchus, Tachyglossus- (Echidna).

They produce young ones. Subclass theria is divided into two infraclasses Metatheria and Eutheria.

I. Infra-Class Metatheria:

Now they are found mainly in Australia, New Guinea and S. America. Females have a marsupium or brood-pouch for rearing young ones. Infraclass metatheria includes one Order Marsupialia. Mammals of this order are called marsupials or pouched mammals, e.g., Macropus, Didelphis (Opossum) and Phascolarctos (Koala).

II. Infra-class Eutheria:

They are provided with true placenta, hence called placen­ta! mammals. The embryos are retained in the uterus (womb) till an advanced stage.

Some of the principal orders of placental mammals are briefly described here.

(1) Insectivora (L. insectum- insect, vorare- to eat).

Testes are abdominal. The water shrew is the tiniest mammal which is as large as a human thumb e.g., shrews, moles and hedgehogs.

(2) Dermoptera (Gr. derm- skin, pteron- wing):

A hairy skin fold called patagium extends like a parachute from neck to tail for gliding, e.g., flying lemours. Actually, flying lemurs are neither true lemurs nor do they fly.

(3) Chiroptera (Gk. Cheiros- hand pteron- wing):

They are flying mammals. The forelimbs are modified into wings, e g bats and flying foxes. The vampire bats feed on the blood of mammals including man

(4) Edentata (L edentatus- toothless):

They are toothless. This order includes the armadillos and sloths of South America.

(5) Phoiidota (Gk. pholis- a homy scale):

The body of these mammals is covered with overlapping horny scales with sparse hair in between. Teeth are absent, e.g. Manis (scaly ant eater or pangolin).

(6) Primates (L. primus- of the first rank):

Primates have highly developed brain. The living primates include prosimians (meaning before monkeys) and simians. The prosimians include lemurs, lorises and tarsiers the simians include monkeys, apes and men.

(7) Rodentia (L. rodo- gnaw):

They have one pair of sharp chisel-like incisors in each jaw. The canines are absent, leaving a toothless space, the diastema in the jaw no canines, e.g., rats, mice, squirrels, guinea-pigs and porcupines!

(8) Lagomorpha (Gk. logos- hare, morphe- form):

They have two pairs of incisors in the upper jaw and one pair of incisors in the lower jaw and no canines, e.g., rabbits and hares.

(9) Cetacea (L. cetus- whale):

They have fish-like body, well adapted for aquatic life. They have fin-like fore limbs, but no hind limbs. Testes are abdominal. The skin has a thick layer of fat called blubber serving as reserve food, an insulator for reducing the specific gravity.

Pinnae are reduced or absent. Hair is only on lips. They do not have sweat and oil glands, e g whales, dolphins and porpoises. Blue whale is the largest living animal. Whales nor­mally lack pelvic girdle and hind limbs.

The Green land whales, however, possess vestiges of pelvic girdles and bones of hind limbs inside the body

(10) Carnivora (L. Caro- flesh, vorare- to eat):

They are flesh eating mammals. These animals have sharp pointed canines, strong jaws and well developed claws, e.g., dog, cat, wolf, jackal, fox, cheetah, lion, tiger, hyaena, mongoose, bear, panda, otter, seal, walrus, sea lion. Cheetah is the fastest runner. It can cover a distance of 120 Km in one hour.

(11) Proboscidea (Gk. pro- in front, boskein- to eat):

They have a long muscular trunk. They are thick skinned animals hence called pachyderms (Gk. pachys – thick, derm – Skin). They are the largest land animals, e.g., elephants.

(12) Sirenia (Gk. siren- sea nymph):

They are herbivorous aquatic mammals with fin-like forelimbs and no hind limbs. They have few hairs and do not have external ears.

They have thick blubber. Testes are abdominal. The males have tusks, e.g., Manatee, Seacows.

(13) Perissodactyla (Gk. perissos- odd, dactylos- toes):

They are herbivorous odd-toed hoofed mammals or ungulates (L. ungula- hoof) or hoofed which have an odd number of toes (1 or 3). True horns with a bony core are never present.

The stomach is of non­ruminating type (these are not cud chewing animals) e.g., horses, asses, mules, zebras, tapirs and rhinoceros.

(14) Artiodactyla (Gk. artios- even, dactylos- digit):

They are herbivorous even toed hoofed mammals or ungulates (hoofed) which have even number of toes (2 or 4). True horns or antlers are present in many animals of this order. Many even toed hoofed mammals like cow and camel are ruminants or cud-chewing.

Kingdom Animalia consists of organisms that range from the simplest of the animal forms to the most complex. At one end of this classification of animals, you have the microscopic organisms. And at the other end, you see animals that you probably come across in your daily life. You and your friends, for example, are members of the Animal Kingdom. Your pet dog, bird, cat or even those pesky insects that you find in the gardens are all part of this gigantic kingdom.

Scientifically speaking, all organisms that belong to this Kingdom are Eukaryotic organisms. They are all multicellular, with many cells present. The cells do not have cell walls in them. Another important feature is that they have a heterotrophic mode of nutrition, which means that they cannot make their own food.

The Different Phyla

Classification of animals is termed as Kingdom Animalia. It is further divided into different phyla. These are nothing but divisions in which animals/organisms with the same characteristics are included under them. Apart from the primary distinguishing features of the Animal Kingdom (Eukaryotic, Multicellular, without a cell wall and heterotrophic) each phylum has organisms that have common characteristics. In the classification of animals chart, they move from the simplest to the most complex.

The different phyla in the classification of animals are as follows:

Let us now look at some important features of each Phylum.

Phylum Porifera

These are the simplest multicellular animals, found mainly in marine habitats. These organisms have pores all over the body. They have a canal system that helps in circulating water and food particles and oxygen. The body design shows minimal differentiation and division of tissues. Commonly called as Sponges, some of the examples are Spongilla, Sycon etc.

Phylum Coelenterata

These organisms show more body differentiation. They live in water. The body has a sac-like cavity, with a single opening for ingestion an egestion. These animals have two germ layers and hence are called diploblastic. You can see these animals living solitarily or n colonies. Examples include Jellyfish, Sea Anemone, and Hydra.

Phylum Platyhelminthes

These are commonly called flatworms. Their bodies are flattened dorsoventrally. They are the first triploblastic animals, with three germ layers. The body is also bilaterally symmetrical, with both the left and right halves of the body having the same design. Flatworms can be either parasitic or free living. A few examples are Planaria, Liver Fluke, and Tapeworm.

Phylum Nematoda

The bilateral symmetry and triploblastic nature continue in these animals. The body, however, is more cylindrical and not flattened. The body cavity is not a true coelom. And hence it is called a pseudo coelom. Tissues are present, but organs are absent. These organisms show a complete alimentary canal which is straight. Most of these organisms belonging to this phylum are parasitic worms, which cause diseases. Examples are Ascaris, Wucheria.

Phylum Annelida

Annelids are found in different habitats, such as land, fresh water, and even marine mater. They have a bilaterally symmetrical body with three germ layers (Triploblastic). A distinguishing feature here is that they have a true body cavity. The body is also segmented with some organ differentiation seen. Examples are Earthworms, Leeches.

Phylum Arthropoda

They make up the largest group in the animal kingdom. Most of the insects are included in this phylum. “Arthropoda” means jointed legs. The bodies of these animals are divided into head, thorax, and abdomen. Apart from the jointed legs, they also have a pair of compound eyes. Another distinguishing feature of these animals is the presence of an open circulatory system. Examples are butterfly housefly, spiders, mosquitoes, crabs etc.

You can download Diversity in Living Organisms Cheat Sheet PDF by clicking on the Download button below

Phylum Mollusca

The bilateral symmetry and the triploblastic nature of the body layers are seen here too. Molluscans form a very diverse group and form an important part of the ecosystem. These animals can be seen aquatic habitats. They can be either marine or freshwater species. The body does not show much segmentation and the coelomic cavity is also reduced. The body is typically divided into anterior head, ventral muscular foot, and a dorsal visceral mass. The foot helps in the locomotion of the animals. Examples are Snails, Mussels, and Octopus.

Phylum Echinodermata

Moving on with the classification of animals we come to Phylum Echinodermata. Echinoderms are animals with spiny skin. They live exclusively in a marine habitat. They are free-living animals. The larvae show bilateral symmetry whereas the adults show radial symmetry. These animals are triploblastic and have a coelomic cavity. They have a peculiar water driven tube system that helps them in moving around. They also have a hard exoskeleton that is made up of calcium carbonate. Examples are Starfish, Sea cucumber, Sea Urchin.

Phylum Protochordata

The protochordate animals are bilaterally symmetrical and triploblastic. They have a coelom. A new body feature that is seen in these animals is the presence of notochord at some stage in their life cycle. Due to this very presence of a notochord, they are called as chordates. However, it is sometimes rudimentary. They are exclusively marine animals. Examples include Herdmania, Balanoglossus.

Phylum Vertebrata

These are the advanced group of animals, showing some really advanced features of a proper digestive system, circulatory system etc. There is a complex differentiation of body tissues and organs. These animals have a true vertebral column with an internal skeleton. All chordates have the following features:

Phylum Vertebrata is classified into five classes. They are:

Class Pisces

These are exclusively aquatic animals, commonly called as Fish. Their skin is covered by scaly plates. The body is streamlined. A muscular tail helps in the movement. Respiration occurs through gills. The heart is present with two chambers. Examples are Tuna, Rohu, Anglerfish, and Electric ray.

Class Amphibia

Amphibians can live both on land and in water. They have mucus glands in the skin. The heart is three chambered, with respiration occurring through gills or lungs. They are egg-laying animals, with a distinctive head and trunk. Examples are Frogs, Toads, and Salamander.

Class Reptilia

Reptilians are cold-blooded animals, which have scales on their body. They breathe through lungs. In most of these animals, the heart is three chambered, with the exception of crocodiles, which have a four-chambered heart. Examples are Snakes, turtles, Crocodiles etc.

Class Aves

They are warm-blooded animals with the body being covered by feathers. The forelimbs are modified into wings. They have a four-chambered heart. They breathe through lungs. And they lay eggs. All birds are classified under this class. Examples are Parrot, Crow, and Ostrich.

Class Mammalia

Mammals are warm-blooded with a four-chambered heart. They have mammary glands. Their skin has sweat and oil glands. They give birth to young ones. Respiration occurs through lungs. Examples are human beings, gorilla, and cow.

Classification of Animals

There is a large number of animals in the world, so many that it is impossible to list them all. However, there are a few methods to classify them. This article provides some means to do the same.

There is a large number of animals in the world, so many that it is impossible to list them all. However, there are a few methods to classify them. This article provides some means to do the same.

Animals are multicellular i.e. organisms with multiple cells which grow to take a particular shape. Usually, all animals, whether wild or pets, can move independently and without any support. They consume other living organisms for food. They get their name from the Latin term animal, which means soul. In biological terms, the word animal means all categories which belong to the Kingdom Animalia, which includes creatures which range from humans to insects.

Animal Classification

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Classifying animals basically means dividing them into two main groups – vertebrates and invertebrates. Vertebrates have a backbone, while invertebrates are those which don’t. In all, there are more than 800,000 animal species in the Kingdom Animalia and most of them are included in the phylum of Arthropod i.e. invertebrates. Usually, people don’t think of earthworms or jellyfish as animals, but actually they are, thereby making the animal kingdom classification extremely huge. Each living organism is classified into Kingdom – Phylum – Class – Order – Family – Genus – Species. There are basically five kingdoms. They are listed in the following table.

Kingdom Inclusions
Animalia Animals
Plantae Plants
Protista Single-celled organisms
Fungi Yeast, molds, mushrooms, etc.
Monera Bacteria

The next classification is the phylum or phyla. There are different phyla in each kingdom. Chordata is the most well-known phyla, as it includes all animals which has a backbone, which includes all birds, fish, mammals, amphibians, insects, snails, etc. Some other names of phyla are listed below.

Phyla Description
Echinodermata Starfish (marine)
Ctenophora Comb Jellies
Porifera Sponge
Cnidaria Jellyfish
Arthropoda Insects
Nematodes Parasitic worms
Annelida Worms
Platyhelminthes Flatworms
Bryozoa Moss animals

After phyla comes the class. The class of the animal kingdom is broken down into the following groups.

The following table is a brief example of how the class is further divided into order, family, and genus. Since the classification is very vast, only a few examples have been taken to show the representation.

  • Chiroptera (bats)
  • Carnivora (cats, dogs)
  • Proboscidea (elephants)
  • Rodentia(Rodents)
  • Primates
  • Panthera (lion, tiger)
    1. Leo (the lion)
    2. Tigris (tigers)
  • Felis (domestic cats)
  • Neofelis (clouded leopard)

Hylobitadae Family (gibbons)

Classification of Animals for Kids

When you teach kids of how to classify animals, it may not be possible to explain it all in one go. So while explaining, you can use the bottom up instead of the top down approach, starting from the species and ending with the Kingdom. For example, you can ask them to list the common trait between cats, dogs, dolphins, whales, and humans. The answer to that is milk. All these animals feed their young milk when they are born. Moreover, they have hair on their body and are warm-blooded, meaning they can adapt to different rage of temperatures. You can use similar examples while teaching kids.

Charting a Classification

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Making a chart of animal kingdom is not as tough as it may seem. The only thing you should know are the different classifications and then prepare a chart. While making a chart, you can break the animal kingdom into two parts, vertebrates (those which have bones) and invertebrates (those which don’t have bones). Once you have done that, you can classify them into sub categories like mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and reptiles for vertebrates and list the common characteristics of these categories. Invertebrates include porifera (like sponge), starfish, mollusks, arthropods, etc. You can further divide animals with backbones into cold-blooded reptiles like snakes, frogs, etc., warm-blooded animals like whales, dolphins, etc., winged animals like birds, animals which have gills such as fish, and those that have lungs as well as gills, like frogs.

Classifying animals is quite easy, but you need to know which category they fall into. While teaching kids, it’s always better to use pictorial forms so that they can learn better.

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Humans as Hominids

Who are our closest relatives in the primate order? We are placed in the family called Hominidae. Any member of this family is called a hominid. Hominids include four living genera: chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and humans. Among these four genera are just seven living species: two in each genera except humans, with our sole living species, Homo sapiens.The Orangutan mother pictured in figure (PageIndex<5>) cradling her child shows how similar these hominids are to us.

Figure (PageIndex<5>): Orangutan mother and child

Hominids are relatively large, tailless primates, ranging in size from the bonobo, or pygmy chimpanzee, which may weigh as little as 30 kg (66 lb), to the eastern gorilla, which may weigh over 200 kg (440 lb). Most modern humans fall somewhere in between that range. In all species of hominids, males are somewhat larger and stronger, on average, than females, but the differences may not be great. Except for humans, hominids are mainly quadrupedal, although they can get around bipedally if need be to gather food or nesting materials. Humans are the only habitually bipedal species of living hominids.

  • 1. Is it green or does it have green parts?
    • Yes - go to 2
    • No - go to 3
    • Single-celled? go to 6
    • Multicellular? Plantae. Look for cell walls, internal structure. In the compound microscope you might be able to see chloroplasts.
    • Single-celled - go to 4
    • Multicellular (Look for complex or branching structure, appendages) - go to 5
    • Yes - Protista. You should be able to see at least a nucleus and/or contractile vacuole, and a definite shape. Movement should be present, using cilia, flagella, or amoeboid motion. Cilia or flagella may be difficult to see.
    • No - Monera. Should be quite small. May be shaped like short dashes (rods), small dots (cocci), or curved or spiral shaped. The largest them that is commonly found in freshwater is called Spirillum volutans. It is spiral shaped, and can be nearly a millimeter long. Except for Spirillum, it is very difficult to see Monerans except in a compound microscope with special lighting.
    • Yes - Animalia. Movement can be by cilia, flagella, or complex, involving parts that contract. Structure should be complex. Feeding activity may be obvious.
    • No - Fungus. Should be branched, colorless filaments. May have some kind of fruiting body (mushrooms are a fungus, don't forget). Usually attached to some piece of decaying matter - may form a fuzzy coating on or around an object. In water, some bacterial infections of fish and other animals may be mistaken for a fungus.

    Remember, the more you observe the organism, the more sure you can be. Many living things have stages that make them resemble members of another kingdom.

    Number of families in Animal kingdom - Biology

    1. Culex pipiens is the name of a species in the KINGDOM Animalia. Its further classification is:

    Culex pipiens
    Culex pipiens pipiens

    2. The scientific names of subspecies through kingdom are all considered to be Latin, not English. The groups (= taxa, singular taxon) of organisms from tribe through kingdom are all considered to be plural: write Culicidae are (not Culicidae is), Diptera are (not Diptera is).

    3. The names Animalia, Arthropoda, and Insecta are translated into English as animals, arthropods, and insects. The name Diptera can be translated as dipterans, or as flies. The family name Culicidae can be translated as culicids, or as mosquitoes. It is incorrect to write "a Culicidae": write instead "a culicid." Any family name can be translated into English by the same method (change the initial letter from upper to lower case, and delete the "ae."

    4. The scientific name of a genus is a noun in the singular. The scientific name of a species is a binomen (i.e., consists of two words). The scientific name of a subspecies is a trinomen (i.e., consists of three words). The names of genera, species and subspecies are conventionally underlined or placed in italics.

    5. The rules for naming animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) are made by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. The rules are published in International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, and they are revised from time to time.

    6. The rules for naming plants are published in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. They are completely independent of those for naming animals, but they have many points in common, including the use of Latin for all scientific names of plants. Because of complete independence, the scientific name of a genus or species of plant may be the same as the name of a genus or species of animal. Names of the higher taxa of plants (tribes, families, orders, etc.) do not have the same endings as those of animals. Plant family names typically end in -aceae (not -idae), plant order names end in -ales (this varies in animal order names).

    7. The word "variety" means something less than subspecies, and has no formal standing in zoological nomenclature. However, in botany there are two formal categories below the level of subspecies: they are variety (abbreviated var. ) and forma (abbreviated f. ).

    8. The word "type" has special meaning in biology. The type (i.e., type species) is the species that has been designated in the taxonomic literature as typical of a genus. The type (i.e., holotype) is the specimen that has been designated in the taxonomic literature as typical of a species. See a textbook on taxonomy for more information.

    9. The words "variety" and "type" are not used in the same way by non-biologists.


    Millions of living things inhabit our planet, but did you know that they are divided into five separate kingdoms? Some, like animals and plants, are visible to the naked eye but others, like bacteria, can only be seen under a microscope. Let's delve into the world of the five kingdoms of nature and find out a bit more about them.

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    Living things are divided into five kingdoms: animal, plant, fungi, protist and monera.

    Living things are divided into five kingdoms: animal, plant, fungi, protist and monera.

    Living things are divided into five kingdoms: animal, plant, fungi, protist and monera.

    Living things are divided into five kingdoms: animal, plant, fungi, protist and monera.

    Living things are divided into five kingdoms: animal, plant, fungi, protist and monera.

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    Nobody knows for certain when, how or why life began on Earth, but Aristotle observed 2,400 years ago that all the planet's biodiversity was of animal or plant origin. This initial observation by the Greek philosopher was expanded in the 19th and 20th centuries by the discovery of new kingdoms, finally arriving at today's widely-recognised five, which cover the 8.7 million species that live on Earth, according to estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


    The system of biological kingdoms is the way in which science classifies living things according to their ancestry over the course of evolution. This means that all the species that make up these five large groups - some recent theories split them further into six or even seven - have common ancestors and therefore share some of their genes and belong to the same family tree.

    As well as the kingdoms of living things there are other taxonomic categories within the same classification system such as, for instance, domain, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. They all follow a hierarchical order and are dependent on each other, so some divisions include others. In this way, the domain includes the kingdom, the kingdom the phylum, the phylum the class, and so on.


    All the species in a particular kingdom have similar characteristics in terms of their growth and the way they function. Now let's look at where the family relationships that define nature's kingdoms come from:

    Nutrition. Autotrophic (makes its own food) or heterotrophic (feeds on other living things).

    Cell organisation. Unicellular (having only one cell) or multicellular (having two or more cells).

    Cell type. Eukaryotes (the genetic material is surrounded by a membrane) or prokaryotes (lacking a membrane).

    Respiration. Aerobic (needs oxygen) or anaerobic (does not use oxygen).

    Reproduction. Sexual, asexual or through spores.

    Movement. Self-moving or static.


    The first person to divide living things into five broad kingdoms was North American ecologist Robert Whittaker. This researcher proved in 1959 that fungi were not plant organisms - previously it was thought that they were - and a decade later he proposed the creation of the fungi kingdom to differentiate them from plants. Whittaker's theory was widely accepted and the scientific community thereby added a new group to the previous four-kingdom system, established by the American biologist Herbert Copeland in 1956.

    Animal kingdom

    The kingdom Animalia is the most evolved and is divided into two large groups - vertebrates and invertebrates. These animals are multi-celled, heterotrophic eukaryotes with aerobic respiration, sexual reproduction and the ability to move. This kingdom is one of the most diverse and comprises mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, molluscs and annelids, among others.

    Plant kingdom

    Trees, plants and other species of vegetation make up part of the Plantae kingdom - one of the oldest, and characterised by its immobile, multicellular and eukaryotic nature. These autotrophic things, whose cells contain cellulose and chlorophyll are essential for life on Earth since they release oxygen through photosynthesis. As regards their method of reproduction, this may be either sexual or asexual.

    The kingdoms of living things and their species at a glance.

    Fungi kingdom

    This name is used to designate the fungi kingdom which includes yeasts, moulds and all species of mushrooms and toadstools. These multicellular aerobic heterotrophic eukaryotes have chitin in their cell walls, feed off other living things, and reproduce through spores.

    Protista kingdom

    This group is the most primitive of the eukaryotics and all the others are descendants of it. The Protista kingdom is paraphyletic - it contains the common ancestor but not all its descendants - and it includes those eukaryotic organisms that are not deemed to be animals, plants or fungi such as protozoa. As it is so heterogeneous it is difficult to categorise it, since its members have very little in common.

    Monera kingdom

    This is the kingdom of microscopic living things and groups together the prokaryotes (archaea and bacteria). This group is present in all habitats and is made up of single-cell things with no defined nucleus. Most bacteria are aerobic and heterotrophic, while the archaea are usually anaerobic and their metabolism is chemosynthetic.

    The classification of the five kingdoms of nature remains the most accepted today, although the latest advances in genetic research have suggested new revisions and reopened the debate among experts. Such is the case for the sixth kingdom of Carl Woese and George Fox, who in 1977 divided bacteria into two types (Archaea and Bacteria), and the seventh kingdom of Cavalier-Smith, who added a new group to the previous six for algae called Chromista.

    Career Connection

    PaleontologistNatural history museums contain the fossils of extinct animals as well as information about how these animals evolved, lived, and died. Paleontologists are scientists who study prehistoric life. They use fossils to observe and explain how life evolved on Earth and how species interacted with each other and with the environment. A paleontologist needs to be knowledgeable in mathematics, biology, ecology, chemistry, geology, and many other scientific disciplines. A paleontologist’s work may involve field studies: searching for and studying fossils. In addition to digging for and finding fossils, paleontologists also prepare fossils for further study and analysis. Although dinosaurs are probably the first animals that come to mind when thinking about ancient life, paleontologists study a variety of life forms, from plants, fungi and invertebrates to the vertebrate fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

    An undergraduate degree in earth science or biology is a good place to start toward the career path of becoming a paleontologist. Most often, a graduate degree is necessary. Additionally, work experience in a museum or in a paleontology lab is useful.

    It Isn’t Just for Animals

    Are there instances where, as in the animal kingdom, human cannibalism makes sense? And if so, could this behavior resurface in the future? Cannibalism may be gruesome, and repugnant to our current sensibilities, but it has been widely practiced for a variety of reasons.

    Funerary cannibalism was practiced by groups like the Fore of New Guinea and the Wari’ of Brazil. These indigenous people were as mortified at the concept of burying their dead as newly arrived missionaries and anthropologists were at the thought of consuming their own departed loved ones.

    From kings to commoners, Europeans, too, once routinely consumed human blood, bones, skin, guts and body parts. They did it without guilt, a form of medicinal cannibalism. They did it for hundreds of years, and then they made believe it never happened.

    Throughout their long history, body parts were such important ingredients in Chinese culinary cannibalism that the historian and author Key Ray Chong devoted a 13-page chapter in his book “Cannibalism in China” to “Methods of Cooking Human Flesh.” Rather than an emergency ration consumed as a last resort, there are many reports that exotic human-based dishes were prepared for Chinese royalty and upper-class citizens.

    Human cannibalism has also been an instrument of terror. The practice was used to instill horror and intense fear in dissenters during China’s Cultural Revolution, and Japanese soldiers cannibalized prisoners of war during World War II (a fate that President George H. W. Bush barely escaped after his plane was shot down).

    While filial piety is a highly regarded Confucian virtue, it was also the basis for an extreme act of cannibalism-related self-sacrifice. According to Chong, from ancient China through the 19th century, relatives provided parts of their own bodies (thigh and upper arm were the most commonly used) for the consumption and medical benefit of their elders.

    Then there are the more familiar stories, the tales of human cannibalism that springs from hunger. Throughout history and across multiple cultures, when people faced extremely stressful conditions like sieges, famines and strandings (the snowbound Donner Party), many eventually consumed their dead — even their own relatives.

    In a procedure that had become known to seafarers as “the custom of the sea,” sailors cast adrift on the open ocean drew straws. The sailor who drew the short straw gave up his life so that rest might eat. In perhaps the most famous case, in 1765 a storm dismasted the American sloop Peggy, leaving it adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with its captain, nine crewmen and a single slave.

    After consuming the ship’s cat, their uniform buttons and a leather bilge pump, and after the captain had retreated to his cabin clutching a pistol, the crew decided to draw lots. The loser was to be served up as dinner. By an incredible coincidence, the slave drew the short straw.

    Although the man begged for his life, the captain was unable to prevent his murder, later writing that as the crew prepared to cook the body, one sailor rushed in, tore away the slave’s liver and ate it raw. This is the horrific origin of the term “lifeboat strategy,” co-opted by ornithologists over two centuries later to describe the fate of unfortunate nestlings.

    As scientists have come to understand, factors like overpopulation and a lack of alternative forms of nutrition lead to cannibalism among animals, and it is clear that even modern humans have been driven to the behavior on many occasions. What, then, of the future?

    Populations are growing. Resources are dwindling. Deserts are spreading. And the societal rules that bind us together are proving more fragile than we ever imagined they could be. Maybe it is wise to remember that human cannibalism, so unthinkable now, was not uncommon not so long ago.

    Watch the video: Обыкновенный фашизм Full HD, документальный, реж. Михаил Ромм, 1965 г. (May 2022).