Figure 28.0.1: Nearly 97 percent of animal species are invertebrates, including this sea star (Astropecten articulates) common to the eastern and southern coasts of the United States (credit: modification of work by Mark Walz)
A brief look at any magazine pertaining to our natural world, such as National Geographic, would show a rich variety of vertebrates, especially mammals and birds. To most people, these are the animals that attract our attention. Concentrating on vertebrates, however, gives us a rather biased and limited view of biodiversity, because it ignores nearly 97 percent of the animal kingdom, namely the invertebrates. Invertebrate animals are those without a cranium and defined vertebral column or spine. In addition to lacking a spine, most invertebrates also lack an endoskeleton. A large number of invertebrates are aquatic animals, and scientific research suggests that many of the world’s species are aquatic invertebrates that have not yet been documented.
Connie Rye (East Mississippi Community College), Robert Wise (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh), Vladimir Jurukovski (Suffolk County Community College), Jean DeSaix (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Jung Choi (Georgia Institute of Technology), Yael Avissar (Rhode Island College) among other contributing authors. The OpenStax College name, OpenStax College logo, OpenStax College book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the creative commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University. For questions regarding this license, please contact email@example.com. Download for free at http://cnx.org/contents/185cbf87-c72...firstname.lastname@example.org.