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Animals are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, reproduce sexually, and grow from a hollow sphere of cells, the blastula, during embryonic development. Over 1.5 million living animal species have been described—of which around 1 million are insects—but it has been estimated there are over 7 million animal species in total. Animals range in length from 8.5 millionths of a metre to 33.6 metres (110 ft) and have complex interactions with each other and their environments, forming intricate food webs. The study of animals is called zoology.

Most living animal species are in the Bilateria, a clade whose members have a bilaterally symmetric body plan. The Bilateria include the protostomes—in which many groups of invertebrates are found, such as nematodes, arthropods, and molluscs—and the deuterostomes, containing the echinoderms and chordates (including the vertebrates). Life forms interpreted as early animals were present in the Ediacaran biota of the late Precambrian. Many modern animal phyla became clearly established in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion which began around 542 million years ago. 6,331 groups of genes common to all living animals have been identified; these may have arisen from a single common ancestor that lived 650 million years ago.

Selected general articles

Did you know...

  • ... that the lemon-bellied flyrobin occasionally catches and eats insects that are one-sixth of its length?
  • ... that though the onion thrips is tiny, it is the most serious insect pest attacking onion crops in the tropics?
  • ... that Chinko Nature Reserve in central Africa provides a habitat with the genetic diversity needed to reestablish animal populations in neighbouring regions?
  • ... that in order to disguise the V-2 missile launch site in Blizna, the Nazis created an artificial village with plywood cottages and barns, and plaster people and animals?
  • ... that the Florida predatory stink bug is considered beneficial because it feeds on various pest insects?
  • ... that the red-tailed tropicbird eats mainly flying fish and squid?

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In the news

6 October 2018 – Food Additives Amendment of 1958
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans the usage of seven artificial flavors as food additives. Six of them cause cancer in animals when used in "much higher" doses than the conditions of their intended use. (NPR)
24 September 2018 – 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Aftermath of Hurricane Florence
Firefighters remove dead fish from Interstate 40 in Pender County, North Carolina as water from Hurricane Florence recedes. (AJC) (WPTV)
18 September 2018 – 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Florence
The death toll rises to 35. Also, about 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs were killed in flooding from Hurricane Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market. (CBS News) (Washington Examiner)



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