Why classify different types of vertebrates?
Vertebrates are among the most recognizable organisms of the animal kingdom. More than 62,000 vertebrate species have been identified. The vertebrate species now living represent only a small portion of the vertebrates that have existed. The best-known extinct vertebrates are the dinosaurs, a unique group of reptiles, which reached sizes not seen before or after in terrestrial animals. They were the dominant terrestrial animals for 150 million years, until they died out in a mass extinction near the end of the Cretaceous period. Although it is not known with certainty what caused their extinction, a great deal is known about the anatomy of the dinosaurs, given the preservation of skeletal elements in the fossil record.
Currently, a number of vertebrate species face extinction primarily due to habitat loss and pollution. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, more than 6,000 vertebrate species are classified as threatened. Amphibians and mammals are the classes with the greatest percentage of threatened species, with 29 percent of all amphibians and 21 percent of all mammals classified as threatened. Attempts are being made around the world to prevent the extinction of threatened species. For example, the Biodiversity Action Plan is an international program, ratified by 188 countries, which is designed to protect species and habitats.
Additionally, most of our pets are vertebrates: birds, snakes, cats, dogs, etc. Human beings love their animal companions, and it’s important to understand them and their needs.
- Identify the common characteristics of chordates
- Identify characteristics of fishes
- Identify characteristics of amphibians
- Identify characteristics of amniotes
- Identify characteristics of reptiles
- Identify characteristics of birds
- Identify characteristics of mammals