Portal:Animals

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Animal diversity October 2007 for thumbnail.jpg

Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia (also called Metazoa). Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their lives. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and independently. Most all animals must ingest other organisms or their products for sustenance, with the exception of those that form symbiotic relationships with photosynthetic organisms.

Most known animal phyla appeared in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, about 542 million years ago. Animals are divided into various sub-groups, some of which are: vertebrates (birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish); mollusks (clams, oysters, octopuses, squid, snails); arthropods (millipedes, centipedes, insects, spiders, scorpions, crabs, lobsters, shrimp); annelids (earthworms, leeches); sponges; and jellyfish.

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Minke whale penises

The Icelandic Phallological Museum, in Reykjavík, Iceland, houses the world's largest display of penises and penile parts. The collection of 280 specimens from 93 species includes samples from whales (pictured), seals and land mammals. Exhibits are preserved in formaldehyde and displayed in jars or are dried and hung or mounted on the museum's walls and in display cases, the largest item on display once belonged to a blue whale; the smallest, from a hamster, can only be seen with a magnifying glass. The museum claims that it has specimens from elves and trolls that cannot be seen at all since, according to Icelandic folklore, these creatures are invisible. In July 2011, the museum obtained its first human specimen, but the preservation process did not go according to plan and the museum hopes to acquire a "younger and a bigger and better" example. Founded in 1997 by a retired teacher, it attracts thousands of visitors a year—the majority of them women—and has received international media attention. According to its mission statement, the museum aims to enable "individuals to undertake serious study into the field of phallology in an organized, scientific fashion".

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White-necked petrel
Credit: JJ Harrison

The white-necked petrel (Pterodroma cervicalis) is a seabird in the family Procellariidae; adults measure some 43 centimetres (17 in) in length, with a wingspan of 95–105 centimetres (37–41 in). Although the species is found in much of the South Pacific, it breeds on only three islands and is thus considered vulnerable by the IUCN.

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When the fox dies, fowls do not mourn.

—Anonymous

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African elephant
Elephants are large mammals found in sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. Traditionally, two species are recognised, the African elephant (pictured) and the Asian elephant, although some evidence suggests that African bush elephants and African forest elephants are separate species. The largest living terrestrial animals, male African elephants can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft) and weigh 7,000 kg (15,000 lb). Distinctive features include the trunk, used for many purposes, and tusks, which serve as tools and weapons. Females (or "cows") tend to live in family groups; males (or "bulls") leave their family groups when they reach puberty, and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild, and their intelligence has been compared to primates and cetaceans. African elephants are classed as vulnerable, while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered. Elephants are threatened by poaching for the ivory trade, habitat destruction and conflicts with local people. They are highly recognisable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature and popular culture

Did you know...


Portrait of Linnaeus

  • ...that Carolus Linnaeus' (portrait pictured) research on classification led to objections and rebukes from religious authorities?
  • ...that Lampreys are called "nine-eyed eels" (i.e., per side) from a counting of their seven external gill slits on a side with one eye and the nostril?


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