Scientific Taxonomy & Earth’s Biodiversity

Scientific Taxonomy & Earth’s Biodiversity

The Kingdom Animalia

All creatures belonging to the kingdom Animalia share certain characteristics in common. The largest of similarities is the trait that all creatures in this kingdom are multi-cellular. This differentiates animals from single cell life forms such as protozoa and paramecium. However, within the animal kingdom there are many variations of these multi-cellular creatures making the animal kingdom diverse and complex.

There are four large groups of animals that comprise most of the kingdom Animalia; mammals, insects, birds, and enchinoderms. Within these subsets, animals share many characteristics and differences that separate them from other animals by order. For instance, mammals consist of 19 separate orders which group them by family. For instance, cats belong to the order Carnivora (meat-eaters) and the family Felidae (The Animal Reference, 2011). Within the same order is the family Canidae which includes dogs. While these creatures share the characteristics of being mammals and belonging to the family of carnivores they have very different attributes. For instance dogs typically have elongated snouts and cats have flatter faces and retractable claws. Dogs tend to have longer coats and cats have sleek bodies better suited for running and hunting. To show the complex differences between the animals within the order Carnivora; martens, weasels, skunks, and otters are also included in this classification (The Animal Reference, 2011).

Another group in the Animalia family is insects. Insects consist of 29 separate orders which group them by family. For instance, Butterflies and Moths belong to the order Lepidoptera. Moths and Butterflies of this order have four membranous wings (rarely wingless); hind-wings are a little smaller than forewings, both largely or entirely covered with scales (Patterson, 2010).

These insects will however vary in color and wing size. For instance, Skippers are another group of butterflies, with many distinctive features. They are (mostly) day-flying, have knobbed antennae, and rest with wings folded or spread, depending on the group. Skippers also have many different variations. The diversity of insects is incredible by comparison to other animals. There exists 82 families and 12,423 different varieties of insects and this number continues to grow as new species are found constantly (Patterson, 2010).

Another large group of animals are birds. Birds possess many unique characteristics such as feathers, a beak with no teeth, and the laying of hard-shelled eggs. There are 29 different orders of birds two of these orders being Falconiformes (falcons, eagles, hawks and allies) and Gruiformes (cranes and allies) (Brands, 2008). Falcons and cranes both have the same characteristics for mentioned, but these birds also have distinct differences. For instance, falcons are sleek hunting birds whereas cranes are omnivorous creatures changing their diets to the seasons. Eagles would be classified with hawks because they are carnivorous. This separates theses order by virtue of their eating habits and diets (Brands, 2008).

Other animals include echinoderms. Echinoderms are characterized by calcareous skeleton on the inside of their bodies, live in marine environments, and have nervous systems that are non-centralized. Echinoderms do not have brains. A common example of a echinoderm is the starfish. The starfish belongs to the order Paxillosida. This order of starfish is marked by mouth angle plates that are large. Another member of this order Sea urchins, are characterized with having protective shells and spines that protrude from them. They are usually bottom feeders. In contrast, starfish and sea urchins are different physically because they are anatomically different. Starfish have arms whereas sea urchins have spines. Starfish can also generate new arms. These creatures belong to the same order because they are both bottom feeders and live in marine environments and do not have brains (Rajakumar, 2002).

The kingdom of Animalia is tremendous and diverse. The different orders that each of the different species belong to have often subtle and obvious differences. Yet these classifications serve to generalize the important similarities between animals.


Brands, Sheila (14 August 2008). Systema Naturae 2000 / Classification, Class Aves. Project: The Taxonomicon. Retrieved March 31, 2011

Jim Patterson (2010) The Butterflies of Minnesota: A ‘flier’s manual Trafford Publishing.

Rajakumar CP., (2002) Studies on the echinoderm fauna of the Muttom and Colachel coasts (South West Coast of India) PhD Thesis, University of Kerala, India.

The Animal Reference (2011) The Orders of Mammals Order Carnivora

Photo by Yoni Kozminsi on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Thu, Feb 04, 2021. Scientific Taxonomy & Earth’s Biodiversity Retrieved from

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