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Vertebrates

Class orders

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Vertebrate classes
Class orders
Diagrams and bibliography

Examples of  class orders:  

EPTILES

COMMON NAME:

royal python, ball python

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Reptilia

ORDER:

Squamata

FAMILY:

Boidae

-         Small-sized, heavy-bodied python with beige blotches on a dark brown background

-         Eats variety of warm blooded verts.

-         Found in open areas of dry tropical forests and open savannahs; often found in burrows

 

COMMON NAME:

Nile crocodile

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Reptilia

ORDER:

Crocodylia

FAMILY:

Crocodylidae

-         Large, lizard-shaped reptile with four short legs and a long muscular tail. The hide is rough and scaled. Juvenile Nile crocodiles are dark olive to brown with darker crossbands on tail and body. Adults are uniformly dark with darker crossbands on tail.

-        

-         Rivers, freshwater marshes, estuaries, and mangrove swamps

 

 

 

 

 

 

KINGDOM:

 

 

 

 

 

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Reptilia

ORDER:

Squamata

FAMILY:

Colubridae

-         Red, black, and yellow rings around entire body; red and yellow rings are both surrounded by black rings (the red and yellow rings never touch); red nose; ventral pattern same as dorsal

-         Small mammals, eggs, and other reptiles (usually anoles and chameleons) including snakes

-         Pinelands, hardwood hammocks, prairies, cultivated fields, and suburban areas

 

 

 

FISH

COMMON NAME:

barracuda, cuda

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Osteichthyes

ORDER:

Perciformes

FAMILY:

Sphyraenidae

-         Barracudas are muscular fish with streamlined, torpedo-shaped bodies. They are equipped with an impressive set of razor-sharp teeth. The lower jaw juts out past the upper jaw and both are filled with dozens of teeth

-         Smaller fish

-         No data/ sea

 

COMMON NAME:

great barracuda

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Osteichthyes

ORDER:

Perciformes

FAMILY:

Sphyraenidae

 

- Silver cylindrical body with dark blotches and lighter side bands. Mouth is a prominent feature with its obvious conical teeth and large underslung jaw. Dorsal fins are widely separated. Slightly centrally cleft (emarginate) caudal fin.

-100 meters in tropical water

- smaller fish

 

COMMON NAME:

great white shark, white shark, white pointer, white-death, mango-taniwha

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Chondrichthyes

ORDER:

Lamniformes

FAMILY:

Lamnidae

-         Large-sized, predatory shark with rows of serrated, triangular-shaped teeth. Generally darker on dorsal region and whitish below

-         Marine mammals including seals and sea lions, fishes; also scavenge on whale carcasses

-Great white sharks favor temperate waters worldwide, primarily along coastlines. Additionally, they may be found in tropical and sub-tropical waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMPHIBIANS

 

COMMON NAME:

North American bullfrog, bullfrog

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Amphibia

ORDER:

Anura

FAMILY:

Ranidae

-         Green to greenish brown; bullfrogs of the southern US are often spotted; irises of gold or brown; both head and body are flattened and broad

-         Voracious appetite; will eat almost anything that moves and that it can swallow - including invertebrates and small vertebrates such as mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and even turtles and other frogs

-         Vegetation along edge of large, slow moving bodies of freshwater

 

COMMON NAME:

poison arrow frogs, poison dart frogs

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Amphibia

ORDER:

Anura

FAMILY:

Dendrobatidae

-         These small and very colorful frogs often exhibit hues of greens, yellows, reds, and blues combined with black

-         Normally feed on ants, crickets, termites, small flies, and other small insects

-         Depending on the species, some live close to water while others prefer mountainous forest ranges

 

COMMON NAME:

Oriental fire-bellied toad, fire-bellied toad

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Amphibia

ORDER:

Anura

FAMILY:

Discoglossidae

-         The toad's dull brown to bright green back is usually dotted with black spots. Its belly is red or orange-red. It has a small round head and large eyes with heart-shaped pupils

-         Consists mainly of small insects, worms and mollusks

-         Native to South-eastern Siberia, North-eastern China, and Korea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAME:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tiger salamander, mole salamander

 

KINGDOM:

Animalia

 

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Amphibia

 

ORDER:

Caudata

FAMILY:

Ambystomatidae

-         These are large, dark bodied salamanders with light yellow-gold markings extending down their sides. The gray tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum diaboli), a subspecies, has a dark green to gray body speckled with tiny black dots

-         Feed on invertebrates and small vertebrates

-         Tiger salamanders inhabit a wide range of areas extending from coast to coast across the United States and into Canada, and from central Nebraska to northeastern Mexico. They are distributed throughout Texas except for the eastern quarter.

 

 

 

COMMON NAME:

chimpanzee, chimp

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Primates

FAMILY:

Hominidae

-Long arms with opposable thumbs; hair color brown to black; adults similar in size to adolescent humans

- Omnivores that feed on fruits, leaves, seeds, stems, bark, insect, and meat; 60% fruits, 30% other vegetation, 10% animal matter

-lives in tropical forests

 

 

COMMON NAME:

primates

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Primates

FAMILY:

13 extant families

 

- Long arms with opposable thumbs; body hair over most of body; shortened nose (rostrum); forward-looking eyes; opposable first digits on forelimbs and hind limbs

-          Some species eat leaves or fruit; others are insectivorous or carnivorous; certain species are omnivorous

-         Most dwell in tropical forests

 

COMMON NAME:

yellow baboon

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Primates

FAMILY:

Cercopithecidae

-          Primate with course tan fur covering their body; face protrudes similar to a dog's muzzle

-         Omnivorous and opportunistic

-         Savanna

 

COMMON NAME:

killer whale, orca

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Cetacea

SUBORDER:

Odontoceti

FAMILY:

Delphinidae

-          Killer whales are easily recognized by their large size and striking black and white coloration. The dorsal surface and pectoral flippers are black except for a grayish patch (saddle) that lies behind the dorsal fin and a white eyespot located just above and slightly behind each eye. The ventral surface, lower jaw and undersides of the flukes are predominately bright white.

-         Fishes, marine mammals, birds and sea turtles

-         Coastal and offshore waters; resident pods may frequent localized waterways (bays, sounds, etc.) whereas transient pods tend to cover more extensive, varied areas

 

 

COMMON NAME:

jaguar

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Carnivora

FAMILY:

Felidae

-The base color of their coat varies from pale yellow to reddish brown (with melanistic - black - coloration commonly exhibited). A subtle countershading is characteristic, with a deeper tone to the dorsal coat fading to a light/white ventral coat. Solid, black spots are found along the head, underbelly, and legs. Oscellated spots occur along the back and flanks. The general build is stout, compact, and powerful.

-Most significantly, peccaries, capybaras, tapirs, crocodilians, and fish

- Forests and savannahs, with occasional intrusion into scrub and desert environments. Presence is often tied to a substantial fresh water source.

 

 

COMMON NAME:

Indian muntjac, Javan muntjac

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Artiodactyla

FAMILY:

Cervidae

-          This is a small, brown deer with branched antlers and a longer nose than other types of deer.

-          Includes leaves, fruit, bark, fungi, herbs

-          Inhabits rainforest and monsoon forest

 

COMMON NAME:

impala

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Artiodactyla

FAMILY:

Bovidae

-The impala is a medium-sized antelope with a dark brown back fading to a medium brown flank and a white underbelly.

-Includes grasses, herbs, shrubs, and fruits

- Inhabits dry forests, gallery forests, level and mountain country

 

COMMON NAME:

African lion

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Carnivora

FAMILY:

Felidae

-          Short-haired, tawny cat; black tail tuft, ears, and lips; newborns with grayish spots which fade to adult color by three months

-          Antelopes, gazelles, warthogs, smaller carnivores, and occasionally Cape buffalo, giraffe, and young elephants

-          Grasslands

 

COMMON NAME:

Florida panther, mountain lion, puma, cougar

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Carnivora

FAMILY:

Felidae

-          Mountain lions the largest species of cat native to North America. Their coats are typically a uniform silver-gray, tawny or reddish-brown in color although some are occasionally melanistic (black) and rarely albino. Kittens tend to have a spotted coat and blue eyes. Physically, Florida panthers differ slightly from other Felis concolor subspecies - they are darker in color, they have longer legs with smaller feet, and are lighter in weight.

-          An adult Florida panther needs to eat about 35-50 deer-sized animals each year, although females with cubs may need twice that amount. Besides white-tailed deer, Florida panthers may eat rabbits, wild hogs, birds, armadillos, rats, carrion, and grass. There is even a documented report of the panthers eating two alligators in the Everglades National Park.

-          Typically found in remote and fairly undisturbed areas with abundant prey and cover

 

COMMON NAME:

maned wolf

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Carnivora

FAMILY:

Canidae

-          Overall coat is reddish-yellow. Hair along ridge of back is longer and may be darker than rest of coat. Muzzle and lower legs are dark. Throat and tail are light. Ears are long and pronounced. Hair along neck and shoulders is thick, longish, and erectile - hence the common name.

-          Rodents, other small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, fruit, and other vegetable matter

-          Grasslands, savannahs, and swamps

 

 

COMMON NAME:

African lion

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Carnivora

FAMILY:

Felidae

-          Short-haired, tawny cat; black tail tuft, ears, and lips; newborns with grayish spots which fade to adult color by three months

-          Antelopes, gazelles, warthogs, smaller carnivores, and occasionally Cape buffalo, giraffe, and young elephants

-          Grasslands and semi-arid plains

 

COMMON NAME:

Asian elephant, Indian elephant

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Mammalia

ORDER:

Proboscidea

FAMILY:

Elephantidae

-          Huge thick-skinned herbivore with fan-shaped ears and a long trunk, with a single finger-like projection at the tip, which originates between two forward projecting incisors that extend to the ground

-          Consumes plants including grasses, fruits, vegetables, leaves, and bark which it gathers with its long trunk

-          Forests, adjoining grasslands, and scrub

 

 

BIRDS

 

COMMON NAME:

penguin

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Sphenisciformes

FAMILY:

Spheniscidae

-          The upright body posture and mostly black-and-white coloration makes penguins easy to distinguish from other birds. As with other marine animals, penguins have a fusiform (tapered) shape. The forelimbs are modified into flippers, the tail is short and wedge-shaped and the hind limbs are set far back on the body, which is supported on land by webbed feet. Species-specific markings on the head and facial areas make it easy to tell the adults of most penguin species apart.

COMMON NAME:

ostrich

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Struthioniformes

FAMILY:

Struthionidae

-          Largest living bird

 

COMMON NAME:

brown pelican

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Pelecaniformes

FAMILY:

Pelecanidae

-          The brown pelican is a large, grayish-brown bird with a blackish belly and a white head and neck. It has a long beak with a thin, membranous pouch.

 

COMMON NAME:

African yellow-billed duck, yellow-billed duck

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Anseriformes

FAMILY:

Anatidae

- Adult yellow-bills are streaked blackish-gray on the head and neck regions.  The dorsal (back) feathers are typically blackish-brown and scaled in appearance, while the lower feathers are mostly brown or tan in color.  Like the mallard, these ducks have a metallic-green speculum bordered by black and white edging.

COMMON NAME:

bald eagle

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Falconiformes

FAMILY:

Accipitridae

-          Mature adults have a white head and tail, solid brown body, and a large, curved, yellow bill. Juveniles have blotchy patches of white on their underside and tail.

 

COMMON NAME:

black vulture

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Falconiformes

FAMILY:

Cathartidae

-          The black vulture is a medium-sized, dark vulture with a short, black tail, whitish legs, and a gray featherless head

 

COMMON NAME:

king vulture

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Falconiformes

FAMILY:

Cathartidae

-          The king vulture has white eyes (ringed with red), broad wings, a short tail, black wings and tail (above), and an orange beak. The underside of the wings and chest are white. The head and neck are bare

 

COMMON NAME:

Cape Barren goose, Cereopsis goose

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Anseriformes

FAMILY:

Anatidae

-          The Cape Barren goose has pale gray plumage with black markings near the wing tips and tail.  These geese also have pink legs, black feet and a bright greenish-yellow knot on their short black bill.

 

COMMON NAME:

African gray parrot

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Psittaciformes

FAMILY:

Psittacidae (true parrots)

-          The male African gray looks similar to the female, but becomes darker with age.

 

COMMON NAME:

Derbyan parakeet

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Psittaciformes

FAMILY:

Psittacidae (true parrots)

-          These parakeets have a lilac breast and abdomen. The nape, back, and wings are emerald green with large yellow-green patches on the wings. The tapered tail is blue. The face is gray with an iridescent blue-green wash, large black moustache-shaped markings on the lower cheeks and neck, and a black line above upper mandible that runs back to the eyes.

 

COMMON NAME:

keel-billed toucan

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Piciformes

FAMILY:

Ramphastidae

-          The keel-billed toucan is a large bird with mostly black plumage and a very large multi-colored bill. It has red and white coverts under and on top of its tail, green skin around the eyes and lore (the area between the eyes and the bill), a yellow face and throat, and blue legs.

 

COMMON NAME:

great horned owl

KINGDOM:

Animalia

PHYLUM:

Chordata

CLASS:

Aves

ORDER:

Strigiformes

FAMILY:

Strigidae

- The great horned owl is a large owl with ear tufts and barred feathers on the underside of its body. It has a bright white patch at the throat, which expands during vocalization.

 

HISTORY OF VERTEBRATES

I. Subphylum Vertebrata

    A. Characteristics:
        1. All diagnostic chordate features.
        2. Vertebral column
            a. Vertebrae initially rode upon or surrounded persistent notochord.
            b. As role of vertebral column increased, role of notochord declined.
        3. Head (cranium)
            a. Sensory organs of head become more prominent.
            b. Anterior end of neural tube enlarged to form brain.
            c. Cranium = cartilage and/or bone that encases or partially encases brain.

    B. Origin of vertebrates:
        1. Cilia/suspension-feeding protochordate (similar to amphioxus):
            a. More muscular pharynx.
            b. Development of cartilage pharynx support bars.
            c. Better feeding allowed more active life style.
        2. Agnathans:
            a. Deposit/bottom-feeders w/ muscular, pump-like pharynx.
            b. Some may have used roughened structures in mouth opening to scrape food
                off of rocks (eg. possibly ostracoderms)
        3. Gnathostomes:
            a. Transitional species may have been raptorial feeders, plucking individual food
                particles from water or off of surfaces.
            b. Favored expansion of pharyngeal pump and mouth closure to prevent escape
                of captured food.
            c. Jaws powered by muscles vastly increased limits of prey size, allowed active
                predatory life style.

II. Vertebrate Classification

    A. Class Agnatha
        1. Order Myxini = hagfishes (eel-like scavengers)
        2. Order Petromyzontiformes = lampreys
        3. Ostracoderms - consists of several extinct orders.
            a. Bony plates form head shield.
            b. Single nasal opening.

    B. Class Acanthodii
        1. First jawed fishes in fossil record.
        2. Rows of spines along top and sides of body.
        3. Smaller, individual bony plates on head.

    C. Class Placodermi
        1. Prominent bony head shield (similar to ostracoderms).
        2. Jaws.
        3. Paired pectoral and pelvic fins.
        4. Notochord prominent, aided by ossified vertebral elements.

    D. Class Chondrichthyes
        1. Cartilaginous skeletons.
        2. Placoid scales (remnants of bone).
        3. No swim bladder; buoyancy provided by:
            a. large, oily liver.
            b. hydrofoil-like pectoral fins.
            c. heterocercal tail.
        4. Includes sharks, skates, rays.

    E. Class Osteicthyes
        1. At least partially ossified skeleton (may be reversed in some groups).
        2. Swim bladder.
        3. Operculum.
        4. Certain lobe-fined fishes thought to be ancestors of amphibians.

    F. Class Amphibia
        1. First tetrapods.
        2. Paired legs (may have been secondarily lost).
        3. At least partially ossified skeleton.
        4. Scales absent in present forms.
        5. Primitive lungs, but usually aquatic larval stages w/ gills.
        6. Labyrinthodonts = oldest known group, some scales, probable ancestors of stem
            reptiles.

    G. Class Reptilia
        1. Scales, dry skin.
        2. Well-ossified skeleton.
        3. Cleidoic eggs, amnion, internal fertilization.
        4. Extinct forms ancestral to birds and mammals.

H. Class Aves
    1. Feathers (allow flight in most species).
    2. Other modifications for flight:
        a. Hollow, light bones.
        b. Air sacs.
        c. Wings.
    3. Cleidoic eggs, amnion, internal fertilization.
    4. Homoiothermic.

I. Class Mammalia
    1. Mammary glands.
    2. Homoiothermic w/ hair for insulation (may be secondarily lost in some).
    3. Placentation (in most), amnion, internal fertilization.
    4. Heterodonty.
    5. Sweat and sebaceous glands.
    6. Anucleate red blood cells.