Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a backbone or spine), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the subphylum Vertebrata. Familiar examples of invertebrates include arthropods (insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and myriapods), mollusks (chitons, snails, bivalves, squids, and octopuses), annelids (earthworms and leeches), and cnidarians (hydras, jellyfishes, sea anemones, and corals).

The majority of animal species are invertebrates; one estimate puts the figure at 97%.[1] Many invertebrate taxa have a greater number and variety of species than the entire subphylum of Vertebrata.[2]

Some of the so-called invertebrates, such as the Tunicata and Cephalochordata are more closely related to the vertebrates than to other invertebrates. This makes the invertebrates paraphyletic, so the term has little meaning in taxonomy.

The common fruit fly, "Drosophila melanogaster", has been used extensively for research.
The common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been used extensively for research.
Scientific classification
(unranked): Filozoa
Kingdom: Animalia
Groups included
Cladistically included but traditionally excluded taxa


The word "invertebrate" comes from the Latin word vertebra, which means a joint in general, and sometimes specifically a joint from the spinal column of a vertebrate. The jointed aspect of vertebra is derived from the concept of turning, expressed in the root verto or vorto, to turn.[3] The prefix in- means "not" or "without".[4]

Taxonomic significance

The term invertebrates is not always precise among non-biologists since it does not accurately describe a taxon in the same way that Arthropoda, Vertebrata or Manidae do. Each of these terms describes a valid taxon, phylum, subphylum or family. "Invertebrata" is a term of convenience, not a taxon; it has very little circumscriptional significance except within the Chordata. The Vertebrata as a subphylum comprises such a small proportion of the Metazoa that to speak of the kingdom Animalia in terms of "Vertebrata" and "Invertebrata" has limited practicality. In the more formal taxonomy of Animalia other attributes that logically should precede the presence or absence of the vertebral column in constructing a cladogram, for example, the presence of a notochord. That would at least circumscribe the Chordata. However, even the notochord would be a less fundamental criterion than aspects of embryological development and symmetry[5] or perhaps bauplan.[6]

Despite this, the concept of invertebrates as a taxon of animals has persisted for over a century among the laity,[7] and within the zoological community and in its literature it remains in use as a term of convenience for animals that are not members of the Vertebrata.[8] The following text reflects earlier scientific understanding of the term and of those animals which have constituted it. According to this understanding, invertebrates do not possess a skeleton of bone, either internal or external. They include hugely varied body plans. Many have fluid-filled, hydrostatic skeletons, like jellyfish or worms. Others have hard exoskeletons, outer shells like those of insects and crustaceans. The most familiar invertebrates include the Protozoa, Porifera, Coelenterata, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Annelida, Echinodermata, Mollusca and Arthropoda. Arthropoda include insects, crustaceans and arachnids.

Number of extant species

By far the largest number of described invertebrate species are insects. The following table lists the number of described extant species for major invertebrate groups as estimated in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 2014.3.[9]

Invertebrate group Latin name Image Estimated number of
described species[9]
Insects Insecta European wasp white bg02 1,000,000
Arachnids Arachnida Hobo-spider 102,248
Molluscs Mollusca Grapevinesnail 01 85,000
Crustaceans Crustacea J J Wild Pseudocarcinus cropped 47,000
Corals Anthozoa FFS Table bottom 2,175
Velvet worms Onychophora Velvet worm 165
Horseshoe crabs Xiphosura Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda (mangrove horseshoe crab) 4
jellyfish, echinoderms,
sponges, other worms etc.
Total: ~1,300,000

The IUCN estimates that 66,178 extant vertebrate species have been described,[9] which means that over 95% of the described animal species in the world are invertebrates.


The trait that is common to all invertebrates is the absence of a vertebral column (backbone): this creates a distinction between invertebrates and vertebrates. The distinction is one of convenience only; it is not based on any clear biologically homologous trait, any more than the common trait of having wings functionally unites insects, bats, and birds, or than not having wings unites tortoises, snails and sponges. Being animals, invertebrates are heterotrophs, and require sustenance in the form of the consumption of other organisms. 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 to the exterior.

Morphology and symmetry

The body plans of most multicellular organisms exhibit some form of symmetry, whether radial, bilateral, or spherical. A minority, however, exhibit no symmetry. One example of asymmetric invertebrates includes all gastropod species. This is easily seen in snails and sea snails, which have helical shells. Slugs appear externally symmetrical, but their pneumostome (breathing hole) is located on the right side. Other gastropods develop external asymmetry, such as Glaucus atlanticus that develops asymmetrical cerata as they mature. The origin of gastropod asymmetry is a subject of scientific debate.[10]

Other examples of asymmetry are found in fiddler crabs and hermit crabs. They often have one claw much larger than the other. If a male fiddler loses its large claw, it will grow another on the opposite side after moulting. Sessile animals such as sponges are asymmetrical[11] alongside coral colonies (with the exception of the individual polyps that exhibit radial symmetry); alpheidae claws that lack pincers; and some copepods, polyopisthocotyleans, and monogeneans which parasitize by attachment or residency within the gill chamber of their fish hosts).

Nervous system

Neurons differ in invertebrates from mammalian cells. Invertebrates cells fire in response to similar stimuli as mammals, such as tissue trauma, high temperature, or changes in pH. The first invertebrate in which a neuron cell was identified was the medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis.[12][13]

Learning and memory using nociceptors in the sea hare, Aplysia has been described.[14][15][16] Mollusk neurons are able to detect increasing pressures and tissue trauma.[17]

Neurons have been identified in a wide range of invertebrate species, including annelids, molluscs, nematodes and arthropods.[18][19]

Respiratory system

Tracheal system of dissected cockroach
Tracheal system of dissected cockroach. The largest tracheae run across the width of the body of the cockroach and are horizontal in this image. Scale bar, 2 mm.
Cockroach tracheae supplying crop.tiff
The tracheal system branches into progressively smaller tubes, here supplying the crop of the cockroach. Scale bar, 2.0 mm.

One type of invertebrate respiratory system is the open respiratory system composed of spiracles, tracheae, and tracheoles that terrestrial arthropods have to transport metabolic gases to and from tissues.[20] The distribution of spiracles can vary greatly among the many orders of insects, but in general each segment of the body can have only one pair of spiracles, each of which connects to an atrium and has a relatively large tracheal tube behind it. The tracheae are invaginations of the cuticular exoskeleton that branch (anastomose) throughout the body with diameters from only a few micrometres up to 0.8 mm. The smallest tubes, tracheoles, penetrate cells and serve as sites of diffusion for water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. Gas may be conducted through the respiratory system by means of active ventilation or passive diffusion. Unlike vertebrates, insects do not generally carry oxygen in their haemolymph.[21]

A tracheal tube may contain ridge-like circumferential rings of taenidia in various geometries such as loops or helices. In the head, thorax, or abdomen, tracheae may also be connected to air sacs. Many insects, such as grasshoppers and bees, which actively pump the air sacs in their abdomen, are able to control the flow of air through their body. In some aquatic insects, the tracheae exchange gas through the body wall directly, in the form of a gill, or function essentially as normal, via a plastron. Note that despite being internal, the tracheae of arthropods are shed during moulting (ecdysis).[22]


Like vertebrates, most invertebrates reproduce at least partly through sexual reproduction. They produce specialized reproductive cells that undergo meiosis to produce smaller, motile spermatozoa or larger, non-motile ova.[23] These fuse to form zygotes, which develop into new individuals.[24] Others are capable of asexual reproduction, or sometimes, both methods of reproduction.

Social interaction

Social behavior is widespread in invertebrates, including cockroaches, termites, aphids, thrips, ants, bees, Passalidae, Acari, spiders, and more.[25] Social interaction is particularly salient in eusocial species but applies to other invertebrates as well.

Insects recognize information transmitted by other insects.[26][27][28]


The fossil coral Cladocora from the Pliocene of Cyprus

The term invertebrates covers several phyla. One of these are the sponges (Porifera). They were long thought to have diverged from other animals early.[29] They lack the complex organization found in most other phyla.[30] Their cells are differentiated, but in most cases not organized into distinct tissues.[31] Sponges typically feed by drawing in water through pores.[32] Some speculate that sponges are not so primitive, but may instead be secondarily simplified.[33] The Ctenophora and the Cnidaria, which includes sea anemones, corals, and jellyfish, are radially symmetric and have digestive chambers with a single opening, which serves as both the mouth and the anus.[34] Both have distinct tissues, but they are not organized into organs.[35] There are only two main germ layers, the ectoderm and endoderm, with only scattered cells between them. As such, they are sometimes called diploblastic.[36]

The Echinodermata are radially symmetric and exclusively marine, including starfish (Asteroidea), sea urchins, (Echinoidea), brittle stars (Ophiuroidea), sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea) and feather stars (Crinoidea).[37]

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.[38] 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.[39] A number are important parasites.[40] Smaller phyla related to them are the Kinorhyncha, Priapulida, and Loricifera. These groups have a reduced coelom, called a pseudocoelom. Other invertebrates include the Nemertea or ribbon worms, and the Sipuncula.

Another phylum is Platyhelminthes, the flatworms.[41] These were originally considered primitive, but it now appears they developed from more complex ancestors.[42] Flatworms are acoelomates, lacking a body cavity, as are their closest relatives, the microscopic Gastrotricha.[43] The Rotifera or rotifers, are common in aqueous environments. Invertebrates also include the Acanthocephala or spiny-headed worms, the Gnathostomulida, Micrognathozoa, and the Cycliophora.[44]

Also included are two of the most successful animal phyla, the Mollusca and Annelida.[45][46] The former, which is the second-largest animal phylum by number of described species, includes animals such as snails, clams, and squids, and the latter comprises the segmented worms, such as earthworms and leeches. These two groups have long been considered close relatives because of the common presence of trochophore larvae, but the annelids were considered closer to the arthropods because they are both segmented.[47] Now, this is generally considered convergent evolution, owing to many morphological and genetic differences between the two phyla.[48]

Among lesser phyla of invertebrates are the Hemichordata, or acorn worms,[49] and the Chaetognatha, or arrow worms. Other phyla include Acoelomorpha, Brachiopoda, Bryozoa, Entoprocta, Phoronida, and Xenoturbellida.

Classification of invertebrates

Invertebrates can be classified into several main categories, some of which are taxonomically obsolescent or debatable, but still used as terms of convenience. Each however appears in its own article at the following links.[50]


The earliest 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.[51] Some paleontologists suggest that animals appeared much earlier, possibly as early as 1 billion years ago.[52] Trace fossils such as tracks and burrows found in the Tonian era indicate the presence of triploblastic worms, like metazoans, roughly as large (about 5 mm wide) and complex as earthworms.[53]

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.[54] Fossils of invertebrates are commonly used in stratigraphy.[55]


Carl Linnaeus divided these animals into only two groups, the Insecta and the now-obsolete Vermes (worms). Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who was appointed to the position of "Curator of Insecta and Vermes" at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in 1793, both coined the term "invertebrate" to describe such animals and divided the original two groups into ten, by splitting Arachnida and Crustacea from the Linnean Insecta, and Mollusca, Annelida, Cirripedia, Radiata, Coelenterata and Infusoria from the Linnean Vermes. They are now classified into over 30 phyla, from simple organisms such as sea sponges and flatworms to complex animals such as arthropods and molluscs.

Significance of the group

Invertebrates are animals without a vertebral column. This has led to the conclusion that invertebrates are a group that deviates from the normal, vertebrates. This has been said to be because 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 is also possible that some humans believe that, they themselves being vertebrates, the group deserves more attention than invertebrates.[56] 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 (see Paraphyly).[57]

In research

For many centuries, invertebrates were neglected by biologists, in favor of big vertebrates and "useful" or charismatic species.[58] Invertebrate biology was not a major field of study until the work of Linnaeus and Lamarck in the 18th century.[58] During the 20th century, invertebrate zoology became one of the major fields of natural sciences, with prominent discoveries in the fields of medicine, genetics, palaeontology, and ecology.[58] The study of invertebrates has also benefited law enforcement, as arthropods, and especially insects, were discovered to be a source of information for forensic investigators.[38]

Two of the most commonly studied model organisms nowadays are invertebrates: the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. They have long been the most intensively studied model organisms, and were among the first life-forms to be genetically sequenced. This was facilitated by the severely reduced state of their genomes, but many genes, introns, and linkages have been lost. Analysis of the starlet sea anemone genome has emphasised the importance of sponges, placozoans, and choanoflagellates, also being sequenced, in explaining the arrival of 1500 ancestral genes unique to animals.[59] Invertebrates are also used by scientists in the field of aquatic biomonitoring to evaluate the effects of water pollution and climate change.[60]

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Further reading

  • Hyman, L. H. 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.
  • Pechenik, Jan A. (2005). Biology of the invertebrates. Boston: McGraw-Hill, Higher Education. pp. 590 pp. ISBN 978-0-07-234899-6.
  • Ruppert, E. E., Fox, R. S., & Barnes, R. D. (2004). Invertebrate zoology: a functional evolutionary approach. Belmont, CA: Thomas-Brooks/Cole.
  • Adiyodi, K.G. & Adyiodi, R.G. (Eds) 1983- . Reproductive Biology of Invertebrates. Wiley, New York. (Many volumes.)
  • Giese, A.G. & Pearse, J.S. (Eds) 1974- . Reproduction of Marine Invertebrates. Academic Press, New York. (Many volumes.)
  • Advances in Invertebrate Reproduction. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam. (Five volumes.)

External links


Anatomy (Greek anatomē, "dissection") is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having its beginnings in prehistoric times. Anatomy is inherently tied to developmental biology, embryology, comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology, and phylogeny, as these are the processes by which anatomy is generated over immediate (embryology) and long (evolution) timescales. Anatomy and physiology, which study (respectively) the structure and function of organisms and their parts, make a natural pair of related disciplines, and they are often studied together. Human anatomy is one of the essential basic sciences that are applied in medicine.The discipline of anatomy is divided into macroscopic and microscopic anatomy. Macroscopic anatomy, or gross anatomy, is the examination of an animal's body parts using unaided eyesight. Gross anatomy also includes the branch of superficial anatomy. Microscopic anatomy involves the use of optical instruments in the study of the tissues of various structures, known as histology, and also in the study of cells.

The history of anatomy is characterized by a progressive understanding of the functions of the organs and structures of the human body. Methods have also improved dramatically, advancing from the examination of animals by dissection of carcasses and cadavers (corpses) to 20th century medical imaging techniques including X-ray, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging.

Aquatic animal

An aquatic animal is an animal, either vertebrate or invertebrate, which lives in the water for most or all of its lifetime. Many insects such as mosquitoes, mayflies, dragonflies and caddisflies have aquatic larvae, with winged adults. Aquatic animals may breathe air or extract oxygen that dissolved in water through specialised organs called gills, or directly through the skin. Natural environments and the animals that live in them can be categorized as aquatic (water) or terrestrial (land). This designation is paraphyletic.


Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust (usually referred to simply as Buglife) is a British-based nature conservation charity.


A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct of locomotion. Burrows provide a form of shelter against predation and exposure to the elements and can be found in nearly every biome and among various biological interactions. Burrows can be constructed into a wide variety of substrates and can range in complexity from a simple tube a few centimeters long to a complex network of interconnecting tunnels and chambers hundreds or thousands of meters in total length, such as a well-developed rabbit warren.


Cartilage is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue, a rubber-like padding that covers and protects the ends of long bones at the joints, and is a structural component of the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the bronchial tubes, the intervertebral discs, and many other body components. It is not as hard and rigid as bone, but it is much stiffer and much less flexible than muscle. The matrix of cartilage is made up of glycosaminoglycans, proteoglycans, collagen fibers and, sometimes, elastin.

Because of its rigidity, cartilage often serves the purpose of holding tubes open in the body. Examples include the rings of the trachea, such as the cricoid cartilage and carina.

Cartilage is composed of specialized cells called chondrocytes that produce a large amount of collagenous extracellular matrix, abundant ground substance that is rich in proteoglycan and elastin fibers. Cartilage is classified in three types, elastic cartilage, hyaline cartilage and fibrocartilage, which differ in relative amounts of collagen and proteoglycan.

Cartilage does not contain blood vessels (it is avascular) or nerves (it is aneural). Nutrition is supplied to the chondrocytes by diffusion. The compression of the articular cartilage or flexion of the elastic cartilage generates fluid flow, which assists diffusion of nutrients to the chondrocytes. Compared to other connective tissues, cartilage has a very slow turnover of its extracellular matrix and does not repair.


Cestoda is a class of parasitic worms in the flatworm phylum (Platyhelminthes). Most of the species - and the best-known - are those in the subclass Eucestoda; they are ribbonlike worms as adults, known as tapeworms. Their bodies consist of many similar units, known as proglottids, which are essentially packages of eggs which are regularly shed into the environment to infect other organisms. Species of the other subclass, Cestodaria, are mainly fish parasites.

All cestodes are parasitic; many have complex life histories, including a stage in a definitive (main) host in which the adults grow and reproduce, often for years, and one or two intermediate stages in which the larvae develop in other hosts. Typically the adults live in the digestive tracts of vertebrates, while the larvae often live in the bodies of other animals, either vertebrates or invertebrates. For example, Diphyllobothrium has at least two intermediate hosts, a crustacean and then one or more freshwater fish; its definitive host is a mammal. Some cestodes are host-specific, while others are parasites of a wide variety of hosts. Some six thousand species have been described; probably all vertebrates can host at least one species.

The adult tapeworm has a scolex, or head, a short neck, and a strobila, or segmented body formed of proglottids. Tapeworms anchor themselves to the inside of the intestine of their host using their scolex, which typically has hooks, suckers, or both. They have no mouth, but absorb nutrients directly from the host's gut. The neck continually produces proglottids, each one containing a reproductive tract; mature proglottids are full of eggs, and fall off to leave the host, either passively in the feces or actively moving. All tapeworms are hermaphrodites, with each individual having both male and female reproductive organs.

Humans are subject to infection by several species of tapeworms if they eat undercooked meat such as pork (Taenia solium), beef (T. saginata), and fish (Diphyllobothrium), or if they live in, or eat food prepared in, conditions of poor hygiene (Hymenolepis or Echinococcus species). The unproven concept of using tapeworms as a slimming aid has been touted since around 1900.


Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that second group.Charles Darwin recognized the small number of traits that made domestic species different from their wild ancestors. He was also the first to recognize the difference between conscious selective breeding in which humans directly select for desirable traits, and unconscious selection where traits evolve as a by-product of natural selection or from selection on other traits. There is a genetic difference between domestic and wild populations. There is also such a difference between the domestication traits that researchers believe to have been essential at the early stages of domestication, and the improvement traits that have appeared since the split between wild and domestic populations. Domestication traits are generally fixed within all domesticates, and were selected during the initial episode of domestication of that animal or plant, whereas improvement traits are present only in a proportion of domesticates, though they may be fixed in individual breeds or regional populations.The dog was the first domesticated vertebrate, and was established across Eurasia before the end of the Late Pleistocene era, well before cultivation and before the domestication of other animals. The archaeological and genetic data suggest that long-term bidirectional gene flow between wild and domestic stocks – including donkeys, horses, New and Old World camelids, goats, sheep, and pigs – was common. Given its importance to humans and its value as a model of evolutionary and demographic change, domestication has attracted scientists from archaeology, palaeontology, anthropology, botany, zoology, genetics, and the environmental sciences.

Among birds, the major domestic species today is the chicken, important for meat and eggs, though economically valuable poultry include the turkey, guineafowl and numerous other species. Birds are also widely kept as cagebirds, from songbirds to parrots.

The longest established invertebrate domesticates are the honey bee and the silkworm. Terrestrial snails are raised for food, while species from several phyla are kept for research, and others are bred for biological control.

The domestication of plants began at least 12,000 years ago with cereals in the Middle East, and the bottle gourd in Asia. Agriculture developed in at least 11 different centres around the world, domesticating different crops and animals.


An exoskeleton (from Greek έξω, éxō "outer" and σκελετός, skeletós "skeleton") is the external skeleton that supports and protects an animal's body, in contrast to the internal skeleton (endoskeleton) of, for example, a human. In usage, some of the larger kinds of exoskeletons are known as "shells". Examples of animals with exoskeletons include insects such as grasshoppers and cockroaches, and crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters. The shells of certain sponges and the various groups of shelled molluscs, including those of snails, clams, tusk shells, chitons and nautilus, are also exoskeletons. Some animals, such as the tortoise, have both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton.


Eyes are organs of the visual system. They provide organisms with vision, the ability to receive and process visual detail, as well as enabling several photo response functions that are independent of vision. Eyes detect light and convert it into electro-chemical impulses in neurons. In higher organisms, the eye is a complex optical system which collects light from the surrounding environment, regulates its intensity through a diaphragm, focuses it through an adjustable assembly of lenses to form an image, converts this image into a set of electrical signals, and transmits these signals to the brain through complex neural pathways that connect the eye via the optic nerve to the visual cortex and other areas of the brain. Eyes with resolving power have come in ten fundamentally different forms, and 96% of animal species possess a complex optical system. Image-resolving eyes are present in molluscs, chordates and arthropods.The simplest "eyes", such as those in microorganisms, do nothing but detect whether the surroundings are light or dark, which is sufficient for the entrainment of circadian rhythms. From more complex eyes, retinal photosensitive ganglion cells send signals along the retinohypothalamic tract to the suprachiasmatic nuclei to effect circadian adjustment and to the pretectal area to control the pupillary light reflex.


The Garniidae are a family of parasites in the phylum Apicomplexia. Like many species in the Apicomplexia, all species in this family have two hosts in their lifecycles – one in a vertebrate and one in an invertebrate. The vertebrate hosts are reptiles or birds, but the invertebrate hosts are not known for many of the species.

Species in this family are parasites of erythrocytes and diverse white blood cells. They do not produce pigment, but do have an asexual cycle in the blood.

The type genus is Garnia.

Germplasm Resources Information Network

Germplasm Resources Information Network or GRIN is an online USDA National Genetic Resources Program software project to comprehensively manage the computer database for the holdings of all plant germplasm collected by the National Plant Germplasm System.GRIN has extended its role to manage information on the germplasm reposits of insect (invertebrate), microbial, and animal species (see Sub-Projects).

Invertebrate paleontology

Invertebrate paleontology (also spelled invertebrate palaeontology) is sometimes described as invertebrate paleozoology or invertebrate paleobiology.

Whether it is considered to be a subfield of paleontology, paleozoology, or paleobiology, this discipline is the scientific study of prehistoric invertebrates by analyzing invertebrate fossils in the geologic record.

By invertebrates are meant the non-vertebrate creatures of the kingdom Animalia (or Metazoa) in the biotic domain of Eukaryota. By phyletic definition, these many-celled, sub-vertebrate animals lack a vertebral column, spinal column, vertebrae, backbone, or long, full-length notochord -- in contrast to the vertebrates in the one phylum of Chordata.

Relatedly, invertebrates have never had a cartilaginous or boney internal skeleton, with its skeletal supports, gill slits, ribs and jaws. Finally, throughout geologic time, invertebrates have remained non-craniate creatures; that is, they never developed a cranium, nerve-chord brain, skull, or hard protective braincase (unlike many vertebrates).

Marine invertebrates

Marine invertebrates are the invertebrates that live in marine habitats. Invertebrate is a blanket term that includes all animals apart from the vertebrate members of the chordate phylum. Invertebrates lack a vertebral column, and some have evolved a shell or a hard exoskeleton. As on land and in the air, marine invertebrates have a large variety of body plans, and have been categorised into over 30 phyla. They make up most of the macroscopic life in the oceans.


Mesenchyme, in vertebrate embryology, is a type of connective tissue found mostly during the development of the embryo. It is composed mainly of ground substance with few cells or fibers. It can also refer to a group of mucoproteins found in certain types of cysts (etc.), resembling mucus. It is most easily found as a component of Wharton's jelly.

The vitreous of the eyeball is a similar tissue.In invertebrate zoology, the term refers to free cells loosely arranged in a matrix.

Sea apple

Sea apple is a common name for the colorful and somewhat round sea cucumbers of the genera Paracucumaria and Pseudocolochirus, found in Indo-Pacific waters. Sea apples are filter feeders with tentacles, ovate bodies, and tube-like feet. They can release their internal organs or a toxin into the water when stressed.

Simple eye in invertebrates

A simple eye (sometimes called a pigment pit) refers to a type of eye form or optical arrangement that contains a single lens. A "simple eye" is so called in distinction from a multi-lensed "compound eye", and is not necessarily at all simple in the usual sense of the word. The eyes of humans and large animals, and camera lenses are classed as "simple" because in both cases a single lens collects and focuses light onto the retina or film. Many insects have compound eyes consisting of multiple lenses (up to tens of thousands), each focusing light onto a small number of retinula cells.

The structure of an animal's eye is determined by the environment in which it lives, and the behavioural tasks it must fulfill to survive. Arthropods differ widely in the habitats in which they live, as well as their visual requirements for finding food or conspecifics, and avoiding predators. Consequently, an enormous variety of eye designs are found in arthropods: they possess a wide variety of novel solutions to overcome visual problems or limitations.


The trachea, colloquially called the windpipe, is a cartilaginous tube that connects the pharynx and larynx to the lungs, allowing the passage of air, and so is present in almost all air-breathing animals with lungs. The trachea extends from the larynx and branches into the two primary bronchi. At the top of the trachea the cricoid cartilage attaches it to the larynx. This is the only complete tracheal ring, the others being incomplete rings of reinforcing cartilage. The trachealis muscle joins the ends of the rings and these are joined vertically by bands of fibrous connective tissue – the annular ligaments of trachea. The epiglottis closes the opening to the larynx during swallowing.

The trachea develops in the second month of development. It is lined with an epithelium that has goblet cells which produce protective mucins (see Respiratory epithelium). An inflammatory condition, also involving the larynx and bronchi, called croup can result in a barking cough. A tracheotomy is often performed for ventilation in surgical operations where needed. Intubation is also carried out for the same reason by the inserting of a tube into the trachea. From 2008, operations have experimentally transplanted a windpipe grown by stem cells, and synthetic windpipes; however, a successful method for this method of transplant does not currently exist and development of such a method remains theoretically daunting.The word "trachea" is used to define a very different organ in invertebrates than in vertebrates. Insects have an open respiratory system made up of spiracles, tracheae, and tracheoles to transport metabolic gases to and from tissues.

Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology

The Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology (or TIP) published by the Geological Society of America and the University of Kansas Press, is a definitive multi-authored work of some 50 volumes, written by more than 300 paleontologists, and covering every phylum, class, order, family, and genus of fossil and extant (still living) invertebrate animals. The prehistoric invertebrates are described as to their taxonomy, morphology, paleoecology, stratigraphic and paleogeographic range. However, genera with no fossil record whatsoever have just a very brief listing.

Publication of the decades-long Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology is a work-in-progress; and therefore it is not yet complete: For example, there is no volume yet published regarding the post-Paleozoic era caenogastropods (a molluscan group including the whelk and periwinkle). Furthermore, every so often, previously published volumes of the Treatise are revised.


Worms are many different distantly related animals that typically have a long cylindrical tube-like body and no limbs. Worms vary in size from microscopic to over 1 metre (3.3 ft) in length for marine polychaete worms (bristle worms), 6.7 metres (22 ft) for the African giant earthworm, Microchaetus rappi, and 58 metres (190 ft) for the marine nemertean worm (bootlace worm), Lineus longissimus. Various types of worm occupy a small variety of parasitic niches, living inside the bodies of other animals. Free-living worm species do not live on land, but instead, live in marine or freshwater environments, or underground by burrowing.

In biology, "worm" refers to an obsolete taxon, vermes, used by Carolus Linnaeus and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck for all non-arthropod invertebrate animals, now seen to be paraphyletic. The name stems from the Old English word wyrm. Most animals called "worms" are invertebrates, but the term is also used for the amphibian caecilians and the slowworm Anguis, a legless burrowing lizard. Invertebrate animals commonly called "worms" include annelids (earthworms and marine polychaete or bristle worms), nematodes (roundworms), platyhelminthes (flatworms), marine nemertean worms ("bootlace worms"), marine Chaetognatha (arrow worms), priapulid worms, and insect larvae such as grubs and maggots.

Worms may also be called helminths, particularly in medical terminology when referring to parasitic worms, especially the Nematoda (roundworms) and Cestoda (tapeworms) which reside in the intestines of their host. When an animal or human is said to "have worms", it means that it is infested with parasitic worms, typically roundworms or tapeworms. Lungworm is also a common parasitic worm found in various animal species such as fish and cats.

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