Welcome to another Wordy Wednesday. Yes, I’m late, but here we go anyway!
Today, I’d like to take a look at something we’re all quite familiar with: Animals! Now at first glance, that obviously seems like an easy one. “I know what animals are. I have one!” Or two or three or four… Full disclosure, I don’t have any right now, but I have lived around them for most of my life. Dogs, cats, sheep, fish, rats, snakes, lizards, etc. Growing up, my dad was a tame version of the Crocodile Hunter so my brother and I had ample opportunity to touch and hold and generally be exposed to all manner of different creatures, especially when we went camping. I’ve even held a tarantula once. Exhilarating and terrifying, I assure you. lol
But I’m getting off topic here. So for today, yes, we know what animals are, but we want to take a closer look at some of our categories and generalizations. Next week, we’ll focus more specifically on how to describe each grouping as a whole or, if there’s too much content for each category, individually! And just like that, I might have figured out a couple week’s worth of Wordy Wednesday posts. >.> Yay?
Okay. Without getting too scientific about it all, the umbrella term of “animal” can be broken down into approximately six different categories to cover the breadth of all animal life on earth. Each category has specific characteristics for each group. They are:
**If an animal is not an invertebrate, it is a vertebrate which means that it has a backbone. In other words, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds are all generally vertebrates, with some exceptions.
While there are exceptions, most mammals have hair. They all birth live young who then feed off their mother’s milk. They’re all endothermic which is a fancy way of saying warm-blooded; they are able to keep their body temperature (relatively) stable independent of the outside temperature. According to the dictionary site, there are over 5,500 types of mammals in the world, one of which are humans. hehe
These are creatures that live in the water (understandably so). They breathe underwater by pulling oxygen from the liquid they exist in. They are considered ectotherms meaning they rely on the surrounding temperature to regulate their own body temperature. In other words, they’re cold-blooded, a trait they share with reptiles and amphibians. All fish have fins and most fish have scales. An exception would be the shark which has rough skin as opposed to scales. Interestingly enough, sharks have a cartilaginous backbone instead of a bone-based one.
These are creatures that live in wet or moist environments. They may live in or around water, but they cannot breathe underwater. Not the way that fish can. Instead, they are able to absorb oxygen through their skin, pulling it from the air around them. They are ectotherms (cold-blooded) and they are notable for having a special gland for defense purposes. Often it’ll have some foul smelling liquid or fluid meant to drive off potential predators. This is why your hands might reek after holding a toad or frog. >.>
Ah. The oft misunderstood reptile. Most people are at least okay with lizards but snakes get an infinitely bad rap. I swear. Though it’s generally a good idea to be wary of such reptiles like the alligator or crocodile… These critters are also ectotherms and are typically covered in scales or something called scute – like what you’d find on the underbelly of a turtle. They all have four legs and lay eggs as opposed to having live births. Again, there are exceptions at times as some snakes especially have live babies.
And now we get to our feathered friends. As expected, all of our friends in this category have wings, however not all of them can fly. Fan favorites are often creatures like the penguin, the ostrich, or the now extinct dodo bird. Other notable characteristics are the fact they have beaks, they are endothermic, like most mammals, and they lay hard-shelled eggs. They also have only two legs, and most have hollow bones. This is of course to allow them to fly without needing overly massive wing spans relative to their body size and weight.
And last but not least are our invertebrates. These critters make up approximately 95% of the animal life on our planet. It’s a mind boggling number (over one million different types of creatures) when you think about, but this category includes things like insects and shellfish and crustaceans. They often have soft bodies but may have a hard exoskeleton on the outside. A lot of insects follow this pattern. They can be as simple as multicellular creatures or as complex as Mollusca (animals like the octopus, snail, clam, etc.) or arthropods (animals like spiders, crabs, centipedes, etc.). A fun little tidbit about them is that most but not all of these critters are able to move on their own. Some like coral, barnacles, and mussels remain attached to a singular surface for pretty much their entire lifespan.
**General information from the above pulled from Basic Types of Animals and Their Characteristics
And now that we’ve introduced them, I’ve got one other bit to point out. You might be familiar with some terms like canine, feline, equine, bovine and such. They’re terms associated closely with the animal they reference, either used as a noun to describe the class or category they fall under, or to describe something in relation to them. I’ve often heard the term aquiline nose in writing. Aquiline is related to an eagle, thus it’s a reference to a nose that resembles a beak in some way. Similarly, porcine nose can be used to describe a person whose nose resembles a pig’s.
Below, I’m going to share a table I found that breaks down various animal associations and their respective words. If you’d like to try and guess a few before you go through the table, I’d recommend checking out this link as it gives examples and then some hints to see if you can guess the correct animal.
**I do have to note that a couple of these are British in origin so as an American, I’m not one hundred percent sure how to say all of them. That being the case, I’m not going to try, but I will at least put forth the ones I have used in the past or am familiar with. They’ll be bolded below. ^_^
|ferine||any wild animal|
Which adjectives did you know beforehand? Which one is your new favorite? I’d be delighted to hear if you want to share in the comment box below.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope you have a lovely day!