Invertebrate
Overview
An invertebrate is an animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

 without a backbone. The group includes 97% of all animal species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 – all animals except those in the chordate
Chordate
Chordates are animals which are either vertebrates or one of several closely related invertebrates. They are united by having, for at least some period of their life cycle, a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail...

 subphylum
Subphylum
In life, a subphylum is a taxonomic rank intermediate between phylum and superclass. The rank of subdivision in plants and fungi is equivalent to subphylum.Not all phyla are divided into subphyla...

 Vertebrata
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

 (fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, amphibian
Amphibian
Amphibians , are a class of vertebrate animals including animals such as toads, frogs, caecilians, and salamanders. They are characterized as non-amniote ectothermic tetrapods...

s, reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s, bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, and mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s).

Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group. Given a common multicellular, eukaryotic ancestor, all contained phyla are invertebrates along with two of the three subphyla
Subphylum
In life, a subphylum is a taxonomic rank intermediate between phylum and superclass. The rank of subdivision in plants and fungi is equivalent to subphylum.Not all phyla are divided into subphyla...

 in Phylum Chordata
Chordate
Chordates are animals which are either vertebrates or one of several closely related invertebrates. They are united by having, for at least some period of their life cycle, a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail...

: Tunicata
Tunicate
Tunicates, also known as urochordates, are members of the subphylum Tunicata, previously known as Urochordata, a group of underwater saclike filter feeders with incurrent and excurrent siphons that is classified within the phylum Chordata. While most tunicates live on the ocean floor, others such...

 and Cephalochordata
Lancelet
The lancelets , also known as amphioxus, are the modern representatives of the subphylum Cephalochordata, formerly thought to be the sister group of the craniates. They are usually found buried in sand in shallow parts of temperate or tropical seas. In Asia, they are harvested commercially as food...

. These two, plus all the other known invertebrates, have only one cluster of Hox genes, while the vertebrates have duplicated their original cluster more than once.

Within palaeozoology
Paleozoology
Paleozoology, also spelled as palaeozoology , is the branch of paleontology or paleobiology dealing with the recovery and identification of multicellular animal remains from geological contexts, and the use of these fossils in the reconstruction of prehistoric environments and ancient...

 and palaeobiology
Paleobiology
Paleobiology is a growing and comparatively new discipline which combines the methods and findings of the natural science biology with the methods and findings of the earth science paleontology...

, invertebrates are often studied within the fossil
Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

 discipline called invertebrate palaeontology
Invertebrate paleontology
Invertebrate paleontology is sometimes described as Invertebrate paleozoology or Invertebrate paleobiology....

.
The word invertebrate comes from the word vertebrate, with the prefix in- attached to it.
Encyclopedia
An invertebrate is an animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

 without a backbone. The group includes 97% of all animal species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 – all animals except those in the chordate
Chordate
Chordates are animals which are either vertebrates or one of several closely related invertebrates. They are united by having, for at least some period of their life cycle, a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail...

 subphylum
Subphylum
In life, a subphylum is a taxonomic rank intermediate between phylum and superclass. The rank of subdivision in plants and fungi is equivalent to subphylum.Not all phyla are divided into subphyla...

 Vertebrata
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

 (fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, amphibian
Amphibian
Amphibians , are a class of vertebrate animals including animals such as toads, frogs, caecilians, and salamanders. They are characterized as non-amniote ectothermic tetrapods...

s, reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s, bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, and mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s).

Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group. Given a common multicellular, eukaryotic ancestor, all contained phyla are invertebrates along with two of the three subphyla
Subphylum
In life, a subphylum is a taxonomic rank intermediate between phylum and superclass. The rank of subdivision in plants and fungi is equivalent to subphylum.Not all phyla are divided into subphyla...

 in Phylum Chordata
Chordate
Chordates are animals which are either vertebrates or one of several closely related invertebrates. They are united by having, for at least some period of their life cycle, a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail...

: Tunicata
Tunicate
Tunicates, also known as urochordates, are members of the subphylum Tunicata, previously known as Urochordata, a group of underwater saclike filter feeders with incurrent and excurrent siphons that is classified within the phylum Chordata. While most tunicates live on the ocean floor, others such...

 and Cephalochordata
Lancelet
The lancelets , also known as amphioxus, are the modern representatives of the subphylum Cephalochordata, formerly thought to be the sister group of the craniates. They are usually found buried in sand in shallow parts of temperate or tropical seas. In Asia, they are harvested commercially as food...

. These two, plus all the other known invertebrates, have only one cluster of Hox genes, while the vertebrates have duplicated their original cluster more than once.

Within palaeozoology
Paleozoology
Paleozoology, also spelled as palaeozoology , is the branch of paleontology or paleobiology dealing with the recovery and identification of multicellular animal remains from geological contexts, and the use of these fossils in the reconstruction of prehistoric environments and ancient...

 and palaeobiology
Paleobiology
Paleobiology is a growing and comparatively new discipline which combines the methods and findings of the natural science biology with the methods and findings of the earth science paleontology...

, invertebrates are often studied within the fossil
Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

 discipline called invertebrate palaeontology
Invertebrate paleontology
Invertebrate paleontology is sometimes described as Invertebrate paleozoology or Invertebrate paleobiology....

.

Etymology

The word invertebrate comes from the word vertebrate, with the prefix in- attached to it. Thus, the word indicates that which lacks vertebrae.

Characteristics

The trait that is common between all invertebrates is the absence of a backbone: this creates a distinction between invertebrates, and vertebrates. Being animals, invertebrates are heterotrophs, and require sustenance in the form of consuming other organisms. Their cells also lack rigid cell walls. With a few exceptions, such as the Porifera, invertebrates generally have bodies composed of differentiated tissues. There is also typically a digestive chamber with one or two openings in it.

Many invertebrates reproduce through sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction is the creation of a new organism by combining the genetic material of two organisms. There are two main processes during sexual reproduction; they are: meiosis, involving the halving of the number of chromosomes; and fertilization, involving the fusion of two gametes and the...

. They have a few specialized reproductive cells
Gamete
A gamete is a cell that fuses with another cell during fertilization in organisms that reproduce sexually...

, which undergo meiosis
Meiosis
Meiosis is a special type of cell division necessary for sexual reproduction. The cells produced by meiosis are gametes or spores. The animals' gametes are called sperm and egg cells....

 to produce smaller, motile spermatozoa
Spermatozoon
A spermatozoon is a motile sperm cell, or moving form of the haploid cell that is the male gamete. A spermatozoon joins an ovum to form a zygote...

 or larger, non-motile ova
Ovum
An ovum is a haploid female reproductive cell or gamete. Both animals and embryophytes have ova. The term ovule is used for the young ovum of an animal, as well as the plant structure that carries the female gametophyte and egg cell and develops into a seed after fertilization...

. These fuse to form zygote
Zygote
A zygote , or zygocyte, is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction. In multicellular organisms, it is the earliest developmental stage of the embryo...

s, which develop into new individuals. Others are capable of asexual reproduction, or sometimes, both methods of reproduction.

Phyla

The term invertebrate covers several phyla. One of these are the sponges (Porifera). They were long thought to have diverged from other animals early. They lack the complex organization found in most other phyla. Their cells are differentiated, but in most cases not organized into distinct tissues. Sponges typically feed by drawing in water through pores. Some speculate that sponges are not so primitive, but may instead be secondarily simplified. The Ctenophora  and the Cnidaria
Cnidaria
Cnidaria is a phylum containing over 9,000 species of animals found exclusively in aquatic and mostly marine environments. Their distinguishing feature is cnidocytes, specialized cells that they use mainly for capturing prey. Their bodies consist of mesoglea, a non-living jelly-like substance,...

, which includes sea anemone
Sea anemone
Sea anemones are a group of water-dwelling, predatory animals of the order Actiniaria; they are named after the anemone, a terrestrial flower. Sea anemones are classified in the phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa, subclass Zoantharia. Anthozoa often have large polyps that allow for digestion of larger...

s, coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

s, and jellyfish
Jellyfish
Jellyfish are free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria. Medusa is another word for jellyfish, and refers to any free-swimming jellyfish stages in the phylum Cnidaria...

, are radially symmetric and have digestive chambers with a single opening, which serves as both the mouth and the anus. Both have distinct tissues, but they are not organized into organs
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

. There are only two main germ layers, the ectoderm and endoderm, with only scattered cells between them. As such, they are sometimes called diploblastic.

The Echinodermata are radially symmetric and exclusively marine, including starfish, sea urchin
Sea urchin
Sea urchins or urchins are small, spiny, globular animals which, with their close kin, such as sand dollars, constitute the class Echinoidea of the echinoderm phylum. They inhabit all oceans. Their shell, or "test", is round and spiny, typically from across. Common colors include black and dull...

s, and sea cucumbers. Other phyla of invertebrates are the Hemichordata
Hemichordata
Hemichordata is a phylum of marine deuterostome animals, generally considered the sister group of the echinoderms. They date back to the Lower or Middle Cambrian and include two main classes: Enteropneusta , and Pterobranchia. A third class, Planctosphaeroidea, is known only from the larva of a...

, or acorn worms, and the Chaetognatha, or arrow worms.

The largest animal phylum is also included within invertebrates: the Arthropoda, including insects, spiders, crabs, and their kin. All these organisms have a body divided into repeating segments, typically with paired appendages. In addition, they possess a hardened exoskeleton that is periodically shed during growth. Two smaller phyla, the Onychophora and Tardigrada, are close relatives of the arthropods and share these traits. The Nematoda or roundworms, are perhaps the second largest animal phylum, and are also invertebrates. Roundworms are typically microscopic, and occur in nearly every environment where there is water. A number are important parasites. Smaller phyla related to them are the Kinorhyncha
Kinorhyncha
Kinorhyncha is a phylum of small marine pseudocoelomate invertebrates that are widespread in mud or sand at all depths as part of the meiobenthos...

, Priapulida
Priapulida
Priapulida is a phylum of marine worms. They are named for their extensible spiny proboscis, which, in some species, may have a shape like that of a human penis...

, and Loricifera
Loricifera
Loricifera is a phylum of very small to microscopic marine sediment-dwelling animals with twenty-two described species, in eight genera. Aside from these described species, there are approximately 100 more that have been collected and not yet described. Their size ranges from 100 µm to ca....

. These groups have a reduced coelom, called a pseudocoelom. Other invertebrates include the Nemertea
Nemertea
Nemertea is a phylum of invertebrate animals also known as "ribbon worms" or "proboscis worms". Alternative names for the phylum have included Nemertini, Nemertinea and Rhynchocoela. Although most are less than long, one specimen has been estimated at , which would make it the longest animal ever...

 or ribbon worms, and the Sipuncula
Sipuncula
The Sipuncula or Sipunculida is a group containing 144-320 species of bilaterally symmetrical, unsegmented marine worms...

.

Another phylum is Platyhelminthes, the flatworms. These were originally considered primitive, but it now appears they developed from more complex ancestors. Flatworms are acoelomates, lacking a body cavity, as are their closest relatives, the microscopic Gastrotricha. The Rotifera or rotifers, are common in aqueous environments. Invertbrates also include the Acanthocephala
Acanthocephala
Acanthocephala is a phylum of parasitic worms known as acanthocephales, thorny-headed worms, or spiny-headed worms, characterized by the presence of an evertable proboscis, armed with spines, which it uses to pierce and hold the gut wall of its host...

 or spiny-headed worms, the Gnathostomulida, Micrognathozoa, and the Cycliophora.

Also included are two of the most successful animal phyla, the Mollusca
Mollusca
The Mollusca , common name molluscs or mollusksSpelled mollusks in the USA, see reasons given in Rosenberg's ; for the spelling mollusc see the reasons given by , is a large phylum of invertebrate animals. There are around 85,000 recognized extant species of molluscs. Mollusca is the largest...

 and Annelida. The former, which is the second-largest animal phylum by number of described species, includes animals such as snail
Snail
Snail is a common name applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the adult stage. When the word is used in its most general sense, it includes sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails. The word snail without any qualifier is however more often...

s, clam
Clam
The word "clam" can be applied to freshwater mussels, and other freshwater bivalves, as well as marine bivalves.In the United States, "clam" can be used in several different ways: one, as a general term covering all bivalve molluscs...

s, and squid
Squid
Squid are cephalopods of the order Teuthida, which comprises around 300 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles...

s, and the latter comprises the segmented worms, such as earthworm
Earthworm
Earthworm is the common name for the largest members of Oligochaeta in the phylum Annelida. In classical systems they were placed in the order Opisthopora, on the basis of the male pores opening posterior to the female pores, even though the internal male segments are anterior to the female...

s and leech
Leech
Leeches are segmented worms that belong to the phylum Annelida and comprise the subclass Hirudinea. Like other oligochaetes such as earthworms, leeches share a clitellum and are hermaphrodites. Nevertheless, they differ from other oligochaetes in significant ways...

es. These two groups have long been considered close relatives because of the common presence of trochophore
Trochophore
A trochophore is a type of free-swimming planktonic marine larva with several bands of cilia.By moving their cilia rapidly, a water eddy is created. In this way they control the direction of their movement...

 larvae, but the annelids were considered closer to the arthropods because they are both segmented. Now, this is generally considered convergent evolution
Convergent evolution
Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages.The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Although their last common ancestor did not have wings, both birds and bats do, and are capable of powered flight. The wings are...

, owing to many morphological and genetic differences between the two phyla.

Other phyla include Acoelomorpha
Acoelomorpha
The Acoelomorpha are a disputed phylum of animals with planula-like features that were considered to belong to the phylum Platyhelminthes. In 2004 molecular studies demonstrated that they are a separate phylum, although their position in the tree of life is contentious; most researchers believe...

, Brachiopoda, Bryozoa
Bryozoa
The Bryozoa, also known as Ectoprocta or commonly as moss animals, are a phylum of aquatic invertebrate animals. Typically about long, they are filter feeders that sieve food particles out of the water using a retractable lophophore, a "crown" of tentacles lined with cilia...

, Entoprocta
Entoprocta
Entoprocta, whose name means "anus inside", is a phylum of mostly sessile aquatic animals, ranging from long. Mature individuals are goblet-shaped, on relatively long stalks. They have a "crown" of solid tentacles whose cilia generate water currents that draw food particles towards the mouth, and...

, Phoronida, and Xenoturbellida.

History

Some of the first animal fossils appear to be those of invertebrates. 665-million-year-old fossils in the Trezona Formation at Trezona Bore, West Central Flinders, South Australia have been interpreted as being early sponges. Some paleontologists suggest that animals appeared much earlier, possibly as early as 1 billion years ago. Trace fossil
Trace fossil
Trace fossils, also called ichnofossils , are geological records of biological activity. Trace fossils may be impressions made on the substrate by an organism: for example, burrows, borings , urolites , footprints and feeding marks, and root cavities...

s such as tracks and burrows found in the Tonian
Tonian
The Tonian is the first geologic period in the Neoproterozoic Era and lasted from 1000 Mya to 850 Mya...

 era indicate the presence of triploblastic worms, like metazoans, roughly as large (about 5 mm wide) and complex as earthworms.

Around 453 MYA, animals began diversifying, and many of the important groups of invertebrates diverged from one another. Fossils of invertebrates are found in various types of sediment from the Phanerozoic
Phanerozoic
The Phanerozoic Eon is the current eon in the geologic timescale, and the one during which abundant animal life has existed. It covers roughly 542 million years and goes back to the time when diverse hard-shelled animals first appeared...

. Fossils of invertebrates are commonly used in stratigraphy.

Classification

Carl Linnaeus divided these animals into only two groups, the Insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

a and the now-obsolete Vermes
Vermes
Vermes is an obsolete taxon used by Carolus Linnaeus and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck for all non-arthropod invertebrate animals. In Linnaeus system the group had the rank of class, occupying the 6th slot of his animal systematics...

 (worm
Worm
The term worm refers to an obsolete taxon used by Carolus Linnaeus and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck for all non-arthropod invertebrate animals, and stems from the Old English word wyrm. Currently it is used to describe many different distantly-related animals that typically have a long cylindrical...

s). Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de la Marck , often known simply as Lamarck, was a French naturalist...

, who was appointed to the position of "Curator of Insecta and Vermes" at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
Muséum national d'histoire naturelle
The Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle is the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France.- History :The museum was formally founded on 10 June 1793, during the French Revolution...

 in 1793, both coined the term "invertebrate" to describe such animals, and divided the original two groups into ten, by splitting Arachnid
Arachnid
Arachnids are a class of joint-legged invertebrate animals in the subphylum Chelicerata. All arachnids have eight legs, although in some species the front pair may convert to a sensory function. The term is derived from the Greek words , meaning "spider".Almost all extant arachnids are terrestrial...

a and Crustacea
Crustacean
Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

 from the Linnean Insecta, and Mollusca
Mollusca
The Mollusca , common name molluscs or mollusksSpelled mollusks in the USA, see reasons given in Rosenberg's ; for the spelling mollusc see the reasons given by , is a large phylum of invertebrate animals. There are around 85,000 recognized extant species of molluscs. Mollusca is the largest...

, Annelida, Cirripedia
Barnacle
A barnacle is a type of arthropod belonging to infraclass Cirripedia in the subphylum Crustacea, and is hence related to crabs and lobsters. Barnacles are exclusively marine, and tend to live in shallow and tidal waters, typically in erosive settings. They are sessile suspension feeders, and have...

, Radiata
Radiata
The Radiata are the radially symmetric animals of the Eumetazoa subkingdom. The term Radiata has had various meanings in the history of classification...

, Coelenterata
Coelenterata
Coelenterata is an obsolete term encompassing two animal phyla, the Ctenophora and the Cnidaria . The name comes from the Greek "koilos" , referring to the hollow body cavity common to these two phyla...

 and Infusoria
Infusoria
Infusoria is a collective term for minute aquatic creatures like ciliates, euglenoids, protozoa, and unicellular algae that exist in freshwater ponds...

 from the Linnean Vermes. They are now classified into over 30 phyla, from simple organisms such as sea sponge
Sea sponge
Sponges are animals of the phylum Porifera . Their bodies consist of jelly-like mesohyl sandwiched between two thin layers of cells. While all animals have unspecialized cells that can transform into specialized cells, sponges are unique in having some specialized cells, but can also have...

s and flatworm
Flatworm
The flatworms, known in scientific literature as Platyhelminthes or Plathelminthes are a phylum of relatively simple bilaterian, unsegmented, soft-bodied invertebrate animals...

s to complex animals such as arthropod
Arthropod
An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton , a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arthropods are members of the phylum Arthropoda , and include the insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and others...

s and molluscs
Mollusca
The Mollusca , common name molluscs or mollusksSpelled mollusks in the USA, see reasons given in Rosenberg's ; for the spelling mollusc see the reasons given by , is a large phylum of invertebrate animals. There are around 85,000 recognized extant species of molluscs. Mollusca is the largest...

.

Significance of the group

Invertebrates are animals without backbones. This has led to the conclusion that invertebrates are a group that deviates from the norm, vertebrates. This has been said to be due to the fact that researchers in the past, such as Lamarck, viewed vertebrates as a "standard": in Lamarck's theory of evolution, he believed that characteristics acquired through the evolutionary process involved not only survival, but also progression toward a "higher form", to which humans and vertebrates were closer than invertebrates were. Although goal-directed evolution has been abandoned, the distinction of invertebrates and vertebrates persists to this day, even though the grouping has been noted to be "hardly natural or even very sharp." Another reason cited for this continued distinction is that Lamarck created a precedent through his classifications which is now difficult to escape from. It's also possible that some humans believe that, they themselves being vertebrates, the group deserves more attention than invertebrates. In any event, in the 1968 edition of Invertebrate Zoology, it is noted that "division of the Animal Kingdom into vertebrates and invertebrates is artificial and reflects human bias in favor of man's own relatives." The book also points out that the group lumps a vast number of species together, so that no one characteristic describes all invertebrates. In addition, some species included are only remotely related to one another, with some more related to vertebrates than other invertebrates.

In research

Two of the most commonly studied model organisms are invertebrates: the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster
Drosophila melanogaster
Drosophila melanogaster is a species of Diptera, or the order of flies, in the family Drosophilidae. The species is known generally as the common fruit fly or vinegar fly. Starting from Charles W...

and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans
Caenorhabditis elegans
Caenorhabditis elegans is a free-living, transparent nematode , about 1 mm in length, which lives in temperate soil environments. Research into the molecular and developmental biology of C. elegans was begun in 1974 by Sydney Brenner and it has since been used extensively as a model...

. They have long been the most intensively studied model organism
Model organism
A model organism is a non-human species that is extensively studied to understand particular biological phenomena, with the expectation that discoveries made in the organism model will provide insight into the workings of other organisms. Model organisms are in vivo models and are widely used to...

s, and were among the first life-forms to be genetically sequenced. This was facilitated by the severely reduced state of their genome
Genome
In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA....

s, but many gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s, intron
Intron
An intron is any nucleotide sequence within a gene that is removed by RNA splicing to generate the final mature RNA product of a gene. The term intron refers to both the DNA sequence within a gene, and the corresponding sequence in RNA transcripts. Sequences that are joined together in the final...

s, and linkages
Genetic linkage
Genetic linkage is the tendency of certain loci or alleles to be inherited together. Genetic loci that are physically close to one another on the same chromosome tend to stay together during meiosis, and are thus genetically linked.-Background:...

 have been lost. Analysis of the starlet sea anemone
Starlet sea anemone
The starlet sea anemone is a species of sea anemone native to the east coast of the United States, with introduced populations along the coast of southeast England and west coast of the United States....

 genome has emphasised the importance of sponges, placozoans, and choanoflagellate
Choanoflagellate
The choanoflagellates are a group of free-living unicellular and colonial flagellate eukaryotes considered to be the closest living relatives of the animals...

s, also being sequenced, in explaining the arrival of 1500 ancestral genes unique to animals.

Arthropods, especially insects, are often used by forensic scientists. For example, some invertebrates are attracted to dead bodies.

Further reading

  • Hyman, L. H.
    Libbie Hyman
    Libbie Henrietta Hyman , was an American zoologist.Born in Des Moines, Iowa, she was the daughter of Joseph Hyman and Sabina Neumann. Hyman's father, a Polish/Russian Jew, adopted the surname when he immigrated to the United States as a youth...

    1940. The Invertebrates (6 volumes) New York : McGraw-Hill. A classic work.
  • Anderson, D. T. (Ed.). (2001). Invertebrate zoology (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Brusca, R. C., & Brusca, G. J. (2003). Invertebrates (2nd ed.). Sunderland, Mass. : Sinauer Associates.
  • Miller, S.A., & Harley, J.P. (1996). Zoology (4th ed.). Boston: WCB/McGraw-Hill.
  • Ruppert, E. E., Fox, R. S., & Barnes, R. D. (2004). Invertebrate zoology: a functional evolutionary approach. Belmont, CA: Thomas-Brooks/Cole.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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