In this enquiry we will be finding out all about how to sort animals out using keys, the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates, what micro organisms are how plants and animals are different. Use the links, gallery, video and information below to do some research for yourself.





Use the game below by clicking on the picture to look at how to sort animals into different types.

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What are vertebrates?

Vertebrates are animals that have a backbone or spinal column, also called vertebrae. These animals include fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.  There are currently around 65,000 known species of vertebrate animals. This sounds like a lot, but vertebrates are only around 3% of all the animals on Earth. Most of the animal species are invertebrates.

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What are some vertebrate animals?

  • Fish – Fish are animals that live in the water. They have gills that allow them to breathe under water. Different species  of fish may live in fresh water or salt water. Some examples of fish  include the brook trout, the great white shark, lionfish, and the swordfish.
  • Birds – Birds are animals that have feathers, wings, and lay eggs. Many, but not all, birds can fly. Some examples of  bird species include the bald eagle, the cardinal, the flamingo,      ostriches, and the red-tailed hawk.
  • Mammals – Mammals are warm-blooded animals that nurse their young with milk and have fur or hair. Some examples of mammals include humans, dolphins, giraffes, horses,  and spotted hyenas.
  • Amphibians – Amphibians are  cold-blooded animals. They start out their lives living in the water with  gills just like fish. Later they develop lungs and can move to dry land.  Amphibians include frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders.
  • Reptiles – Reptiles are  cold-blooded animals which lay eggs. Their skin is covered with hard and  dry scales. Reptile species include alligators, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and turtles.

Cold-blooded and Warm-blooded

Vertebrate animals can be either warm-blooded or cold-blooded. A cold-blooded animal cannot maintain a constant body temperature. The temperature of their body is determined by the outside surroundings. Cold-blooded animals will move around during the day between the shade and the sun to warm up or cool down. Cold-blooded animals are ectothermic, which means outside heat. Reptiles, amphibians, and fish are all cold-blooded.

Warm-blooded animals are able to regulate their internal temperature. They can sweat or pant to cool off and have fur and feathers to help keep them warm. Warm-blooded animals are called endothermic, meaning “heat inside”. Only birds and mammals are warm-blooded.

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Did you know?
The smallest vertebrate is thought to be a tiny frog called the Paedophryne amauensis. It only grows to about 0.3 inches long. The largest is the blue whale, which can grow to over 100 feet long and 400,000 pounds.

Fun Facts about Vertebrates

  • The only mammals that lay eggs are monotremes such as the platypus and spiny anteater.
  • There are reptiles that live on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Most fish have skeletons make of bone, they are called bony fish. Other fish have skeletons made of cartilage. These include sharks and rays.
  • Frogs can breathe through their skin.
  • The shortest childhood of any mammal is the hooded seal. They are considered adults when they are just four days old.
  • Vertebrates tend to be much more intelligent than invertebrates.

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What are invertebrates?

Invertebrates are animals that do not have backbones, also called vertebrae or spinal bones. Invertebrates as a group do not have a specific classification. Mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and birds all have vertebrae. This might seem like a lot of the animals you know, but all these animals make up less than 4% of the total animals species. This means that over 96% of all the animal species on Earth are invertebrates.
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What are some invertebrate animals?

  • Marine Invertebrates – There are a wide variety of interesting ocean animals that  are invertebrates. These include sponges, corals, jellyfish, anemones, and  starfish.
  • Mollusks – Mollusks have a soft body that is covered by an outer layer called a mantle. Many mollusks live inside a shell, but not all of them. Some examples of mollusks include squid, snails, slugs, octopuses, and oysters.
  • Crustaceans -Crustaceans are a type of arthropod, meaning that they have jointed legs. They also have an exoskeleton (their bones are on the outside like a shell). Some examples of crustaceans are crabs, lobster, shrimp, and barnacles.
  • Worms – The term “worm” is not a scientific word, but is often used to refer to invertebrate animals that don’t have legs. Worms may live in the soil, in the water, or even inside other animals as parasites. Some examples include the tapeworm, the leech, and the earthworm.
  • Insects – Insects are part of the Earth’s largest animal phylum, the arthropods. There are over 1 million species of insects      including such animals as the grasshopper, dragonfly, yellow jacket, butterfly, and praying mantis.
  • Spiders, Centipedes and Scorpions – These animals are all part of the arthropod phylum. Spiders and scorpions are arachnids because they have eight legs. Centipedes and millipedes are myriapods and have lots of legs. Some myriapods have as many as 750 legs. Some example species include the tarantula and black widow, which are both spiders.

Did you know?
The largest of the invertebrates is the colossal squid. It can grow to over 40 feet long and weigh over 1,000 pounds. The longest invertebrate is the ribbon worm which can grow to 180 feet long. The smallest invertebrate is the rotifer, or wheel animal, which can be as small as 50um. Way too small to see with just your eyes.

Fun Facts about Invertebrates

  • Around 23% of all  marine organisms are mollusks.
  • The only hard body part of an octopus is a hooked beak at the end of its tentacles.
  • Some invertebrates, such as echinoderms, do not have heads.
  • There are likely millions of invertebrates living in your house right now. They are called  dust mites and you can’t see them.
  • When a crustacean outgrows its shell, it sheds the shell and grows a new one.
  • Lobsters, crabs, and shrimp all have 10 legs. The front two legs have pincers they can use  to catch food and fight off predators.
  • Some scorpion mothers protect  their young by carrying them on their backs.
  • Centipedes are  carnivores which eat insects and worms. They have a poisonous bite to help them kill their prey. Millipedes are herbivores who eat plants and rotting  material.


Can you spot which animals are Vertebrates and which are invertebrates in the gallery below?


What have you learnt?

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What are microorganisms?

Microorganisms are very tiny living things. They are so small that you need a microscope to see them. Microorganisms are all around us, in the air, in our bodies and in water. Some microorganisms are harmful to us, but others are helpful to us. Click here or here to find out more! There are three types of microorganism:

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  • viruses
  • bacteria
  • fungi





Play some games below by clicking on the pictures






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