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Animal diversity October 2007 for thumbnail.jpg

Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia (also called Metazoa). Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their lives. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and independently. Most all animals must ingest other organisms or their products for sustenance, with the exception of those that form symbiotic relationships with photosynthetic organisms.

Most known animal phyla appeared in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, about 542 million years ago. Animals are divided into various sub-groups, some of which are: vertebrates (birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish); mollusks (clams, oysters, octopuses, squid, snails); arthropods (millipedes, centipedes, insects, spiders, scorpions, crabs, lobsters, shrimp); annelids (earthworms, leeches); sponges; and jellyfish.

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Portrait of Linnaeus on a brown background with the word "Linne" in the top right corner

Carl Linnaeus ( 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778) was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern biological naming scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology. Linnaeus was born in the countryside of Småland, in southern Sweden. He received most of his higher education at Uppsala University, and began giving lectures in botany there in 1730. He lived abroad between 1735 and 1738, where he studied and also published a first edition of his Systema Naturae in the Netherlands. He then returned to Sweden, where he became professor of medicine and botany at Uppsala. In the 1740s, he was sent on several journeys through Sweden to find and classify plants and animals. In the 1750s and '60s, he continued to collect and classify animals, plants, and minerals, and published several volumes. At the time of his death, he was one of the most acclaimed scientists in Europe.

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Coral
Credit: Toby Hudson

Corals are marine invertebrates that typically live in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps. Each polyp is a sac-like animal typically only a few millimeters in diameter and a few centimeters in length. Corals are major contributors to the physical structure of the coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef, where this photograph was taken. Coral reefs are under threat globally from ocean acidification and climate change.

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When the fox dies, fowls do not mourn.

—Anonymous

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African elephant
Elephants are large mammals found in sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. Traditionally, two species are recognised, the African elephant (pictured) and the Asian elephant, although some evidence suggests that African bush elephants and African forest elephants are separate species. The largest living terrestrial animals, male African elephants can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft) and weigh 7,000 kg (15,000 lb). Distinctive features include the trunk, used for many purposes, and tusks, which serve as tools and weapons. Females (or "cows") tend to live in family groups; males (or "bulls") leave their family groups when they reach puberty, and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild, and their intelligence has been compared to primates and cetaceans. African elephants are classed as vulnerable, while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered. Elephants are threatened by poaching for the ivory trade, habitat destruction and conflicts with local people. They are highly recognisable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature and popular culture

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Close up of "wholphin"


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