What are animals? There are several Kingdoms of living things, usually considered now to be five Kingdoms. Originally only two basic Kingdoms were recognized, which were the Animal Kingdom and the Plant Kingdom. There are and have been various suggestions of breakdowns of life.

One breakdown is into five kingdoms: Animalia (animals-bugs to humans), Plantae (all plants), Fungi (fungus and molds--from athlete's foot to mushrooms), Monera (bacteria - small celled microorganisms without true cell nuclei), and Protoctista (a catch-all for the multicellular organism which don't fit into the Animal, Plant, Fungus or Monera Kingdoms. It also includes such things as as seaweeds and kelp).

The first breakdown of each Kingdom is into phyla. The Animalia Kingdom is usually considered to be made up of about thirty (30) phyla. The number of each phyla vary enormously.

In the table below, if an item is shown like this it means you can click on that item and go to the page where you will find more specificity.

The phylum to which we belong is the Chordates (i.e. those with a spinal cord).

Let's look at these phyla in the Animal Kingdom:

Here are the Animal Kingdom phyla in alphabetical order (probably the least logical arrangement)

Phyllum Common Name
Approx. # of Species Information and
Comments on Phyllum
Acantheocephala Spiny-headed worms 600 Parasites of the alimentary canal--usually carnivores
Annelida Earthworms, Leeches 8,900 Body divided into a number of more or less similar segments. Fresh water, Marine and Terrestrial. Have well-developed coelom.
Arthropoda Crustaceans, Scorpions, Spiders, Insects >2,000,000 The largest Animal Phyllum by a wide margin with more species than all other Animal phyla combined. Segmented animals with paired, jointed appendages on some or all of their body segments. There are more than 800,000 species of Insecta alone have been described and some Zoologists believe there may be 10,000,000 species.
Brachiopoda Brachs, Lamp Shell 335 Marine animals living on the bottom in shells with two valves. Can be confused with Bi-Valve Mollusks. They thrived during the Paleozoic era. There are more than 30,000 extinct species described.
Chaetognatha Arrow worms >100 Voracious carnivores in the form of small, slender torpedo-shaped marine planktonic animals.
Chordate Mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish 45,000 This is the Phyllum usually considered by lay persons to be "the animals". They are the best known Phyllum and contain humans. Chordates: 1. have walls of their pharynx, at some stage in their life cycle, perforated by gill clefts; 2. a hollow dorsal nerve cord (spinal cord in vertebrates); 3. an axial cartilagenous rod, the notochord, lying immediately beneath the nerve chord. Most chordates have a backbone and are called vertebrates. Two or three subphyla are small invertebrate groups.
Cnidaria Coelenterates, hydra, corals 9,500 Nearly all are marine animals. They are radially symmetrical with tissues and organs, have stinging cells called nematocysts on their tentacles.
Ctenophora Comb jellies, sea gooseberries 90 Aquatic and transparent for the most part
Echinodermata echinoderms, including sea urchins and star fish 6,000 Mostly bottom-dwelling marine animals, usually displaying five-fold symmetry. Fluid-filled tube feet are the means of locomotion and feeding.
Echiura Spoon worms 140 Unsegmented marine worms which burrow in marine deposits
Ectoprocta Ectoprocts 5,000 Small aquatic animals, mostly colonial
Entoprocta Entoprocts 150 Small marine animals, mostly sedentary, living in colonies attached to rocks, shells, algae or other animals
Gastrotricha Gastrotrichs 400 Aquatic microscopic animals with cilia (filaments which move) on their bodies.
Gnasthostomulida Jaw worms 80 Microscopic marine worms.
Hemichordata Hemichordates 90 Small soft-bodied animals that inhabit shallow u-shaped burrows in sands or muddy sea.
Kinorhyncha Kinorhynchs 150 Small worm-like marine animals.
Loricifera Loriciferans 10 Tiny marine animals with abdomen covered by a girdle of spiny plates called a lorica.
Mesozoa Mesozoans 50 Small, worm-like organisms
Mollusca Mollusks, including gastropods, bi-valves (clams, mussels, oysters, etc.) 110,000 Mollusks are the second largest phylum of animals. They live in aquatic or moist environments. They are soft-bodied and usually protected by a calcareous shell that is secreted by a fold of the body wall called the mantle. Many shells are formed of calcium carbonate, but some are made of ???.
Nematoda Nematodes or roundworms >80,000 Estimates are that there may be as many as 1,000,000 species of nematodes in the world. In terms of numbers of individuals, nematodes are the most abundant group of multicellular animals on Earth. They attack plants to the dismay of plant lovers.
Nematomorpha Horsehair worms, Gordian worms 240 Long, thin parasitic worms living in insects and crustaceans as juveniles, then as free-living in water as adults
Nemertina Ribbon worms, proboscis worms 900 This phyla's characteristic is long, sensitive anterior proboscis which is used to explore its environment and to capture prey.
Onychophora Velvet worms 80 Soft-bodied, segmented animals with many paired but unjointed legs. They are confined to humid tropical areas of the Earth.
Pentastoma Tongue worms 70 Parasitic worms found residing in the respiratory passages of air-breathing vertebrates with a chitinous cuticle that is periodically molted to allow for growth.
Phoronida Horseshoe worms 10 Marine worms with as many as 1,500 hollow tentacles. They live in tubes which they secrete and strengthen with sand or shell fragments.
Placozoa trichoplax adhaerens 1 There is only one species known in this phylum. This is the least complex animal known. It has no tissues, organs or symmetry.
Platyhelminthes Flatworms, flukes, tapeworms 15,000 Ribbon-shaped and soft-bodied. This is the least complex of the animals which have some form of a head.They can be cut and each piece regenerates a whole being.
Pogonophora Beard worms 100 Extremely slender, tube-living worms without a gut.
Porifera Sponges 10,000 All species are aquatic and the vast majority are marine with only about 150 species living in fresh water. They have no tissues, organs or symmetry.
Priapulida Priapulids 10 Small carnivorous marine worms.
Sipuncula Peanut worms >300 Unsegmented marine worms which live in crevices or are burrowers.
Rotifera Rotifers or wheel animals 2,000 Aquatic microscopic animals with their anterior end modified into ciliary organs called corona. The beating of this cilia resembles a rotating wheel and is used for locomotion of the animal.
Tardigrada Water bears 380 Minute animals which live in films of water around mosses and other low terrestrial features. They have four pairs of stubby legs which terminate in claws. These are sold as "pets" dry to put into water and hatch.

The phyla are broken down into different layers of ever more specific individuals. Here is an example of a wolf, which is an animal, of course.

The wolf is classified as:
Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordate
Class: Mammalia

Subclass: Theria
Infraclass: Eutheria
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: lupus

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