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Definitions for Dummies - for Animals

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This is not a dictionary or encyclopedia, simply my way of remembering more than my brain will hold.

Classification of Life Forms

Until the 19th century, people thought life forms came in only two kinds: plants and animals. Study revealed that concept too simplistic. Now we have five or six main groups (kingdoms) and biologists still debate if that is enough or divided correctly. Classification of life forms is an ongoing problem. Take the viruses, they are not technically alive but often act like they are, so some people give them their own kingdom.



----------Division (for plants) or Phyla (for everything else)






The Kingdoms

Monera (Bacteria)     Protista (Protist)     Fungi (Fungus)     Plantae (Plant)     Animalia (Animal)     Viruses (Virus)

The main issue today is genetic heritage. Are the life forms grouped together truly related or do they just look alike?



Animal Orders

Below are partial lists of animal orders that may appear in this site.


Animalia (Kingdom), Arthropoda (Phylum)

Insecta (Class)

Insect Orders

The estimated number of species is 6-10 million

Over one million species have been named

Blattaria - roach

Coleoptera - beetle, weevil

Dermaptera - earwig

Diptera - fly

Ephemeroptera - mayfly

Hemiptera - true bugs

Homoptera - aphid

Hymenoptera - ant, wasp, bee

Isoptera - termite

Lepidoptera - butterfly, moth

Mantodea - praying mantis

Mecoptera - scorpionfly

Neuroptera - lacewing

Odonata - dragonfly, damselfly

Orthoptera - grasshopper

Phasmida - walking stick

Phthiraptera - lice

Plecoptera - stonefly

Psocoptera - booklice

Siphonaptera - flea

Thysanura - silverfish

Trichoptera - caddisfy

Arachnida (Class)

Arachnid Orders

Over 100,000 species have been named

Acari - mites, ticks

Araneae - spiders

Opiliones - harvestmen (look like spiders)

Pseudoscorpiones - pseudoscorpions

Scorpiones - scorpions

Thelyphonida - vinegaroons

Malacostraca (Class)

Crustacean Orders

Over 22,000 species have been named

Amphipoda - sand flea

Decapoda - crayfish, crab, lobster, prawn, shrimp

Isopoda - pill bug

Chilopoda (Class)

Centipede Orders

Over 8,000 species have been named

Scutigeromorpha - house centipede

Scolopendromorpha - centipede

(3 other orders)

Diplopoda (Class)

Millipede Orders

Over 10,000 species have been named

Spirostreptida - millipedes

(14 other orders)


Animalia (Kingdom), Mollusca (Phylum)

Over 93,000 species have been named

Bivalvia (Class)

"Clam" Orders

Over 30,000 species have been named

Common names for the groups (clam, mussel) are not always used to represent a specific order

Ostreidae - true oyster - freshwater, marine

Ostreoida - scallop - freshwater, marine

Unionoida - mussel - freshwater

Veneroida - clam, cockle - freshwater, marine

Gastropoda (Class)


About 80,000 species have been named

This class is not well understood so many classification systems have been devised.  DNA sequencing must determine relationships.  Therefore, most references go from Class to Genus.

Snail & Slug - terrestrial, freshwater, marine

Limpet - freshwater, marine

Cephalopoda (Class)

Cephalopod Orders

Over 700 species have been named

Nautilida - nautilus

Octopoda - octopus

Sepiida - cuttlefish

Teuthida - squid


Animalia (Kingdom), Chordata (Phylum)

Actinopterygii (Class)

Bony Fish Orders

Over 30,000 species have been named

Cypriniformes - carp, goldfish, minnow

Cyprinodontiformes - Gambusia

Lepisosteiformes - gar

Perciformes (largest order) - bass, perch, crappie

Salmoniformes - salmon, trout

Siluriformes - catfish

Syngnathiformes - seahorse


Sarcopterygii (Class)

Lobe-finned Fish Orders

Coelacanthiformes - latimeria

Lepidosireniformes - lungfish

Chondrichthyes  (Class)

Cartilaginous Fish Orders

Over 900 species have been named

Carcharhiniformes - most of the sharks

Lamniformes - great white shark

Orectolobiformes - whale shark, nurse shark

Rajiformes - ray


Animalia (Kingdom), Chordata (Phylum), Tetrapoda (Superclass)

Amphibia (Class)

Amphibian Orders

Over 6,300 species have been named

Anura - frog, toad

Caudata - salamander, newt

Aves (Class)

Bird Orders

Listed are only from the Superorder Neognathae

About 10,000 species have been named

Anseriformes - duck, geese, swan

Apodiformes - hummingbirds, swifts

Cathartiformes - New World vultures

Charadriformes - sandpipers, gulls

Ciconiiformes - egrets, herons, stork

Columbiformes - doves, pigeons

Coraciiformes - kingfishers

Cuculiformes - cuckoo, roadrunner

Falconiformes - eagle, falcon, hawk

Galliformes - chicken, quail, pheasant , turkey

Gaviiformes - loon

Gruiformes - crane

Passeriformes (perching birds) - blackbird, crow, finch, flycatcher, jay, mockingbird, robin, starling, swallow, warbler, wren

Pelecaniformes - pelican

Piciformes - woodpeckers

Podicipediformes - greebes

Stringiformes - owls

Reptilia (Class)

Reptile Orders

Over 8,000 species have been named

Crocodilia - crocodile, alligator

Squamata - lizard, snake

Testudines - turtle, terrapin

Mammalia (Class)

Prototheria (subclass)

Monotrem Mammal Orders

Over 5 species have been named

Monotremata - platypus, echindnas

Mammalia (Class)

Eutheria (Infraclass)

Placental Mammal Orders

Over 5400 species have been named

Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulate) - antelope, camel, cattle, deer, goat, pig, pronghorn, sheep

Carnivora - badger, cat, dog, otter, raccoon, skunk

Cetacea - dolphin, porpoise, whale

Cingulata - armadillo

Chiroptera - bat

Lagomorpha - hare, rabbit

Perissodactyla (odd-toed ungulate) - horse

Primates - ape, human, lemur, monkey

Rodentia - mouse, porcupine, rat, squirrel

Mammalia (Class)

Metatheria (Infraclass)

Marsupial Mammal Orders

Over 330 species have been named

Didelphimorphia - opossum



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