All animals in the world are either vertebrates or invertebrates. Here is an easy explanation of what those terms mean and examples of each kind.
Scientists classify all living organisms based on those characteristics that they have in common. As I’ve talked about in the past the general classification system of life starts with the Kingdom and descends to the species level. One of the main kingdoms of life is Animalia or animals. All animals in the world, whether they are a worm, a person, bird, fish, or cow are all either vertebrates or invertebrates.
What Are Vertebrates?
This is really pretty simple and straightforward – vertebrates have a backbone or spinal cord.
These include people and a lot of the other animals we are familiar with. I think that the reason these are the animals we are most familiar with is because we are a vertebrate and many of these other ones are larger animals. All vertebrates belong to one of five different classes – mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
What Are Invertebrates?
Invertebrates, in contrast to vertebrates, do not have a backbone or spinal cord.
The invertebrate group of animals actually includes far more animals and different groups of animals than the vertebrates. Invertebrate animals include snails, crabs, insects, and worms.
Good Diagrams That Show Vertebrates or Invertebrates
Some things are easier to understand with a diagram or photo and I think this is one of them. There are lots of great images and graphics that demonstrate the different animals that are vertebrates and invertebrates. Here is a good diagram that shows the two kinds of animals or check out this other one too.
Are These Animals Vertebrates or Invertebrates?
A rainbow trout?
A black ant?
A dog and rainbow trout are both vertebrates. The starfish, wasp, and black ant are all invertebrates.