Different animals have certain characteristics that scientists use to classify them. In other words all mammals share certain characteristics that make them different than birds or reptiles.
If I look at an animal I generally just know if it is a bird, mammal, or fish. Without even thinking much about it I can determine what kind of animal it is. Knowing what kind of animal it is means that I know a little bit about it even if I don’t know what species it is. Here are the main characteristics that different animals posses.
Scientists Classify Animals Based On Shared Animals Characteristics
All animals and forms of life are classified based on the characteristics that they have. They are grouped close to those that they share a lot with and far from those that they have little in common with.
As a reminder the general classification system is Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.
All animals are in the Kingdom Animalia. In the Animalia Kingdom there are about 35 phyla and sub-phyla. One of those sub-phyla is vertebrate, which includes the classes: mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles. One of the other phyla is arthropoda, which includes the classes spiders and insects.
Here Are The Different Animals Main Characteristics
Here are the main animals that we may encounter in the Rocky Mountains. These are all a class within the subphylum of vertebrate (except for insects, which are a separate phylum).
Mammals – All mammals share four main characteristics, including having a backbone, and mothers nurse their young.
Birds – All birds share five main characteristics, including having a backbone, feathers, and laying eggs.
Fish – All fish share five main characteristics, including breathe underwater using gills, and are cold-blooded.
Amphibians – All amphibians share five main characteristics, including being cold-blooded, have four legs, and can breathe directly through their skin.
Reptiles – All reptiles share share six main characteristics, including they are covered with scales, and shed their skin as they grow.
Insects – All insects share four main characteristics, including an exoskeleton, six legs, and one pair of antennae.