Features Used to Classify Animals

Scientists have developed a classification scheme that categorizes all members of the animal kingdom, although there are exceptions to most “rules” governing animal classification (Figure). Animals have been traditionally classified according to two characteristics: body plan and developmental pathway. The major feature of the body plan is its symmetry: how the body parts are distributed along the major body axis. Symmetrical animals can be divided into roughly equivalent halves along at least one axis. Developmental characteristics include the number of germ tissue layers formed during development, the origin of the mouth and anus, the presence or absence of an internal body cavity, and other features of embryological development, such as larval types or whether or not periods of growth are interspersed with molting.

Art Connection

The phylogenetic tree of metazoans, or animals, branches into parazoans with no tissues and eumetazoans with specialized tissues. Parazoans include Porifera, or sponges. Eumetazoans branch into Radiata, diploblastic animals with radial symmetry, and Bilateria, triploblastic animals with bilateral symmetry. Radiata includes cnidarians and ctenophores (comb jellies). Bilateria branches into Acoela, which have no body cavity, and Protostomia and Deuterostomia, which possess a body cavity. Deuterostomes include chordates and echinoderms. Protostomia branches into Lophotrochozoa and Ecdysozoa. Ecdysozoa includes arthropods and nematodes, or roundworms. Lophotrochozoa includes Mollusca, Annelida, Brachopoda, Ectoprocta, Rotifera, and Platyhelminthes.
Animal phylogeny. The phylogenetic tree of animals is based on morphological, fossil, and genetic evidence. The Ctenophora and Porifera are both considered to be basal because of the absence of Hox genes in this group, but how they are related to the “Parahoxozoa” (Placozoa + Eumetazoa) or to each other, continues to be a matter of debate.

Which of the following statements is false?

  1. Eumetazoans have specialized tissues and parazoans don’t.
  2. Lophotrochozoa and Ecdysozoa are both Bilataria.
  3. Acoela and Cnidaria both possess radial symmetry.
  4. Arthropods are more closely related to nematodes than they are to annelids.
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