What are Vertebrates? This is an explanation and its characteristics

Vertebrates are an interesting type of organism to study. In addition to many types and easy to find, humans are also classified as vertebrates, you know. In fact, without realizing it, we have a lot in common with other vertebrates, like the cat that is your pet or the frog whose voice you can hear at night.

So, what is a vertebrate? What kind of organisms can be called vertebrates? Check out the full explanation with the following characteristics, come on!

1. Definition of vertebrates and their history

Simply put, vertebrates are organisms that have a backbone. This series of bones extend from the bottom of the brain to the tail and plays a major role in body movement while protecting the spinal cord.

Vertebrates also have an inner skeleton or what is called an endoskeleton. It is this skeleton that gives the vertebrate body its shape. They can also move and stand because of the inner frame.

According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP), the history of vertebrates can be traced back more than 500 million years. Precisely since the Cambrian period, almost all life still lives in the oceans.

The vertebrates of that time were very different from those of today. They don’t have jaws. It looks like ghost fish or hagfish and lamprey fish. Vertebrates with jaws began to appear about 100 million years ago in the Silurian period, the time when life began to rise to land.

2. Unique characteristics of vertebrates

In addition to the spine and internal skeleton, vertebrates also have several other characteristics. According to the Animals Worlds page, most vertebrates have closed circulatory systems. The heart which consists of 2-4 chambers pumps blood throughout the body through vessels.

The vertebrate body consists of a head, torso or torso, limbs (hands, feet, wings), and a tail. The trunk tends to be hollow on the inside which contains important internal organs, such as respiratory and digestive organs.

Unlike invertebrates, some vertebrates can regulate their own body temperature. Warm-blooded vertebrates such as mammals and birds have a constant body temperature and will react to changes in temperature in their environment. For example, if you are a vertebrate, you will definitely shiver when you are cold and sweat when you are hot.

On the other hand, cold-blooded vertebrates don’t have this ability. Their body temperature is the same as the environment around them, for example crocodiles. If it’s hot, they will take shelter or enter the water. If it’s cold, they just bask in the sun.

3. Classification of vertebrates, from mammals to amphibians

Generally, vertebrates are divided into five main groups:

1. Mammals: warm-blooded vertebrates that have mammary glands and a diaphragm. Its body is covered with hair and has sweat glands to regulate body temperature.
2. Birds: warm-blooded vertebrates that have wings. His body was covered in fur. The shape and size of the body, including the organ systems in it, are designed to help it fly. Its metabolic activity is the highest among all vertebrates.
3. Fish: cold-blooded vertebrates with slender bodies for swimming. The only vertebrate that does not breathe with lungs, but gills.
Reptiles: cold-blooded vertebrates that crawl. His body was covered in scales. His lungs are designed in such a way to help him breathe more effectively.
4. Amphibians: cold-blooded vertebrates that live in two realms. They undergo a metamorphosis from living in water and breathing through gills. Then, they grow up by moving to land and breathe through lungs and skin.

4. Classification of more ancient vertebrates

There is also a division of classification based on morphology as reported by the Britannica page. In this classification, vertebrates are divided into four main groups:

1. Cyclostomes: includes hagfish and lampreys.
2. Chondrichthyes: includes sharks, rays, and chimaera.
3. Teleostomes: includes true bony fish ( bony fish ).
4. Tetrapod: includes animals that live on land such as mammals, birds, reptiles, to amphibians.

This classification is considered ancient and conservative compared to the general classification that is widely used today.

Well, after reading the explanation, now you know what vertebrates are, their characteristics, and their division. Understanding vertebrates can make it easier for you to learn about the animal world.

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