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Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually, and grow from a hollow sphere of cells, the blastula, during embryonic development. Over 1.5 million living animal species have been described—of which around 1 million are insects—but it has been estimated there are over 7 million animal species in total. Animals range in length from 8.5 micrometres (0.00033 in) to 33.6 metres (110 ft). They have complex interactions with each other and their environments, forming intricate food webs. The kingdom Animalia includes humans but in colloquial use the term animal often refers only to non-human animals. The scientific study of animals is known as zoology.

Most living animal species are in Bilateria, a clade whose members have a bilaterally symmetric body plan. The Bilateria include the protostomes—in which many groups of invertebrates are found, such as nematodes, arthropods, and molluscs—and the deuterostomes, containing both the echinoderms as well as the chordates, the latter containing the vertebrates. Life forms interpreted as early animals were present in the Ediacaran biota of the late Precambrian. Many modern animal phyla became clearly established in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, which began around 542 million years ago. 6,331 groups of genes common to all living animals have been identified; these may have arisen from a single common ancestor that lived 650 million years ago.

Historically, Aristotle divided animals into those with blood and those without. Carl Linnaeus created the first hierarchical biological classification for animals in 1758 with his Systema Naturae, which Jean-Baptiste Lamarck expanded into 14 phyla by 1809. In 1874, Ernst Haeckel divided the animal kingdom into the multicellular Metazoa (now synonymous for Animalia) and the Protozoa, single-celled organisms no longer considered animals. In modern times, the biological classification of animals relies on advanced techniques, such as molecular phylogenetics, which are effective at demonstrating the evolutionary relationships between taxa.

Humans make use of many other animal species, such as for food (including meat, milk, and eggs), for materials (such as leather and wool), as pets, and as working animals including for transport. Dogs have been used in hunting, while many terrestrial and aquatic animals were hunted for sports. Non-human animals have appeared in art from the earliest times and are featured in mythology and religion.

Animal Media

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Animal figure, bronze, Iran

Animal figure, bronze, Iran

Northwestern Iran Iron Age

Peruvian Bridge and Spout Bottle in Animal Form
Animal figurine, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Animal figurine, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Cemetery, MMA excavations, 1906–07 Middle Kingdom

Wounded Animal in a Hunting Scene, Tomb of Userhat

Wounded Animal in a Hunting Scene, Tomb of Userhat

Charles K. Wilkinson From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes New Kingdom

Animal Pendant with Fish Tail

Animal Pendant with Fish Tail

Shang (ca. 1600–1046 B.C.)–Western Zhou (1046–771 B.C.) dynasty

False Bottomed Bowl with Fox and Animal Motifs
Animal figure, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Animal figure, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, cemetery south of Rehuerdjersen (384), Pit 712 south chamber, MMA excavations, 1907–08 Middle Kingdom

Belt Buckle with Animal Motifs
Animal figure, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Animal figure, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, cemetery south of Rehuerdjersen (384), Pit 712 south chamber, MMA excavations, 1907–08 Middle Kingdom

Plaque with Animal Combat Motif
Lime Spatula with Animal Head
Belt Buckle with Animal Combat Scene
Plaque with Confronted Animal Heads
Peruvian Incised Bowl with Animal and Geometric Motifs
Animal figurine, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Animal figurine, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Cemetery, MMA excavations, 1906–07 Middle Kingdom

Animal Figurine, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BCE)

Animal Figurine, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BCE)

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, MMA excavations Ptolemaic Period

Lime Spatula with Animal Head
Curly-Tailed Animal Pendant
Lime Spatula with Animal Head
Head from an Animal Figurine

Head from an Animal Figurine

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, MMA excavations Ptolemaic Period

Belt Buckle with Animal Combat Scene
Animal figure, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC
Garment Plaque with Animal Motif
Animal amulet, Egypt, Second Intermediate Period (1782 - 1570 BCE)
Animal head ornament, bronze, transcaucasia
Short Sword and Sheath with Animal Motifs
Woman Carrying a Child on Her Back and Leading an Animal
Woman Carrying a Child on Her Back and Leading an Animal
Plaque in the Shape of an Animal, Eastern Zhou dynasty
Plaque in the Shape of an Animal Head

Plaque in the Shape of an Animal Head

Western Zhou dynasty (1046–771 B.C.)

Animal figure, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Animal figure, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, cemetery south of Senwosret (758), Pit 619, MMA excavations, 1907–08 Middle Kingdom

Animal amulet, Egypt, The Middle Kingdom - Early New Kingdom 2040 - 1550 BCE

Animal amulet, Egypt, The Middle Kingdom - Early New Kingdom 2040 - 15...

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, cemetery south of pyramid below House A2:1, Pit 486, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom–Early New Kingdom

Animal amulet, Egypt, The Middle Kingdom - Early New Kingdom 2040 - 1550 BCE
Lime Spatula with Animal Head
Animal figure, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC
Ornament in the Shape of an Animal Head
Chinese Animal Pen with Figures
Animal Vessel, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Plaque in the Shape of an Animal, Eastern Zhou dynasty

Plaque in the Shape of an Animal, Eastern Zhou dynasty

Accession Number: 2009.96 Eastern Zhou dynasty (770–256 B.C.)

Animal pendant, arts of africa oceania and the americas
東漢 鉛綠釉陶明器建築模型(一組)|Animal Pen with Figures
Pin with Animal, Moche culture, Northern Peru
Peruvian Bridge and Spout Bottle in Animal Form
Animal Bottle, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal figurine, 7th century

Animal figurine, 7th century

Iran, Qasr-i Abu Nasr Sasanian

Animal figurine, 7th century

Animal figurine, 7th century

Mesopotamia, Ctesiphon Sasanian

Animal figurine, 7th century

Animal figurine, 7th century

Mesopotamia, Ctesiphon Sasanian

Weefselfragment met tabula sculpture, Asia

Weefselfragment met tabula sculpture, Asia

Naturelkleurig linnen weefselfragment met ingeweven tabula met vijf cirkels in bordeauxrood. In de centrale cirkel een centaur, in de cirkels linksboven en rechtsonder een geknielde figuur met schild en krans, ... More

Mesoamerican Animal Head Hacha

Mesoamerican Animal Head Hacha

Guatemala, Mesoamerica

Coptic Fragment of an Animal, Egypt

Coptic Fragment of an Animal, Egypt

Made in Kharga Oasis, Byzantine Egypt

Shard with Figural and Animal Decoration
Coptic Animal (?), 7th century, Egypt

Coptic Animal (?), 7th century, Egypt

Made in Kharga Oasis, Byzantine Egypt

Coptic Animal, 7th century, Egypt

Coptic Animal, 7th century, Egypt

Made in Kharga Oasis, Byzantine Egypt

Coptic Animal, 7th century, Egypt

Coptic Animal, 7th century, Egypt

Made in Kharga Oasis, Byzantine Egypt

Coptic Animal, 7th century, Egypt

Coptic Animal, 7th century, Egypt

Made in Kharga Oasis, Byzantine Egypt

Curly-Tailed Animal Pendant
Mesoamerican Animal, 7th century

Mesoamerican Animal, 7th century

Mexico, Mesoamerica, Nayarit

Coptic Fragment of an Animal, Egypt

Coptic Fragment of an Animal, Egypt

Made in Kharga Oasis, Byzantine Egypt

Curly-Tailed Animal Pendant, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Coptic Fragment of an Animal, Egypt
Animal Head Hacha, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, 10th century
Animal Pendant, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Fragment van een tunica

Fragment van een tunica

Fragment van een tunica(?), bestaande uit een baan rode en een baan blauwe stof met een brede en twee smalle naturelkleurige strepen. Op de rode stof zijn twee stroken met vaasvormig ornament met erin en ernaas... More

Gold Curly Tailed Animal Pendant

Gold Curly Tailed Animal Pendant

Panama, Central America

Curly-Tailed Animal Pendant
Animal Pendant, 10th century
Curly-Tailed Animal Pendant, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal head, iron age ii, Iran

Animal head, iron age ii, Iran

Iran, Hasanlu Iron Age II

Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal head sherd, iron age ii, Iran

Animal head sherd, iron age ii, Iran

Iran, Hasanlu Iron Age II

Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Dish with Mythical Winged Animal
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Animal Ornament, arts of africa oceania and the americas
Gold Curly Tailed Animal Pendant
Animal Flask, 8th century
Animal flask, 8th century
Animal flask, 8th century
Animal Flask, 8th century
Sleeve Fragment with a Band Decorated with an Animal
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