Animals come in many shapes and sizes. Most animals evolved from maritime creatures and some still swim, while others fly, walk, slide, hop, jump, run and dig! Animals are living organisms that move and eat and grow and react to the world through their senses. The word animal originates in the Latin language and means to ’have breath, soul, or living being’. People are technically animals of the mammal type. Animals forage to find food. They are born in eggs, wombs, pupa, sacs, and other paternal arrangements. Many animals care for their young until the babies grow and mature and are able to forage for food themselves. In the world there are millions of animals. Animals are multi cellular, eukaryotic (not plants) cellular organisms. We are still discovering animals today and animals who lived in the past. Animals are wild or domestic. Domestic animals are animals that interact with people. Some animals are trained to work with people like seeing eye dogs or companion cats. Other animals are our pets and bring us much joy and love. What animals have you met in your life?
Activity 1 – Pets and People
Cats and dogs and fish are the most common pets people have. Humans are thought to have domesticated animals as early as 8000 BC when they started to farm and settle in one place. Take a look at the Museum of Natural History Animal Domestication Timeline and see when many types of animals became pets, working companions, and protectors. The Egyptians were buried with their cats and considered them sacred. Pets are our companions. Like people, pets need love, and attention, exercise and play, and socialization. We must groom them (brush their hair and teeth) and take them for check ups regularly. Pet owners are responsible for caring for their pets as pets are no longer capable of meeting their own needs in the wild. When we commit to having a pet, we make a commitment for the life of the animal. It is our responsibility to give them the care that they need. Make a chart of common pets and their life expectancies.
Activity 2 – Animal Types
There are many types of animals in the world and we are still discovering new ones in the present and from the past. Mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds are all animals. These six types of animals fall into two main categories- vertebrates and invertebrates. Vertebrates have spines or backbones and make up less than five percent of all animals. Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals all have backbones of some type. Insects, on the other hand, make of 84% of the animal kingdom and are the largest and most diverse group of animals in the world; called Artopods because of their body parts, they belong to the Arthropoda Phylum(or family). They, like worms, centipedes, spiders, clams, mollusks, crabs, jellyfish and others, do not have vertebrae. In each animal category, there are many, many species. These species evolved from marine life billions of years ago. It is an amazing world to find that our evolution created swimming, floating, flying, walking, running, digging animals! Are people animals? The answer is yes! We are mammals. We have babies that are fed with mothers’s milk; we have hair and fur; we learn through our senses. Our bodies develop and mature and we must eat and drink to live. Animals must find food to live. They do not produce their own (except from mothers to babies). They grow, mature and move for most of their lives. Make a chart of the animal types with several animal species in each category.
Activity 3 – Animal Characteristics
Animals (including humans) eat different foods, live in different places, and have many different characteristics. Animals chirp, roar, talk, bark, moo, sing, coo, and communicate in in many different ways. Babies are born alive (like mammals), hatched in small or large eggs or appear as larva, pupa or maggot. Baby animals are cubs, pups, kittens, calves, chick, duckling, foals, fawn, hatchling, antling and other types and names. They have hair, fur, scales, or feathers. They have feet, hooves, toes, wings, webs, or fins. Some animals have spots, others have stripes, and many are solid colors. Pick an animal. Research its characteristics. Make a five question riddle to have people guess your animal. For example, what animal is this? What animal is awake at night? What flies silently? Which animals turn their head 270 degrees? Who says “Hoooo”? Who is wise?
Activity 4 – Animal Tracks
Go outside. Look in the dirt, sand or mud. If you look closely, you can find animal tracks. Animals leave different foot prints in sand, mud and even in the snow. Some animals leave a single track while others leave pairs of footprints. Some animals with four legs leave multiple footprints. Animals have toes, pads, webs, hoofs, scales, claws, talons, and even more types of feet. You can determine the type of animal by its tracks. You can also guess the size of the animal by the size of the track, the length of the animal’s stride, and the depression that the weight of the animal makes.Take a walk at the beach or in the woods and look for animal tracks. Look in moist soil. Take a walk on a beach and look in the sand. Look for clues like pieces of fur or feathers. Be careful, you might find scat or animal poop! Listen carefully, too. Your animal might be close by and talking! Become an animal tracker. Draw six different animal tracks and the animals that left the tracks and label them.
Activity 6 – Animal Vision, Hearing and Smell
Many animals see, hear and smell with greater range than humans. People have a hearing range between 20 Hz – 20KHz and can see in a certain color range and with certain peripheral vision. Many animals can see at night when people cannot see in the dark. Human sense of smell is surpassed by many animals. Can you match the following animals to their correct range of hearing?
6. Beluga Whale
Use the following frequencies: (a) 67 Hz to 45,000 Hz, (a) 67 Hz to 45,000 Hz; © 20 Hz to 3,000 Hz;(d) 1,000 Hz to 123,000 Hz;(e) 200 Hz to 12,000 Hz;(f) 16 Hz to 12,000 Hz.
Answers are as follows: Elephant (f); Goldfish ©; Bat (b); Owl (e); Dog (a) Can you put these animals in order of the one that can see the least to the one that can see the furthest? Take a look at Animals and Vision to compare what people and different fish, insects, mammals, and reptiles see! And finally consider smell. Humans have between 5 and 6 million smell receptors, ranking behind twelve other animals including guinea pigs, dogs, western clawed frogs, horses, mice, Chinese softshell turtles, cows, opossums, rats and finally, African Elephants. If cows can smell odors from six miles away, how far can African Animals smell with their long trunks? Draw pictures of the five top ‘sniffers’ and ‘seeers’ and 'listeners’, in order from the best to the fifth best!
Activity 7 – Amazing Animal Facts
Which animal is the largest? Which one runs the fastest? What one migrates the longest distance? What animal has the best memory? Checkout the biggest/fastest site and research animal superlatives. Surprise yourself with animal facts. The blue whale is the world’s largest animal. It is so large that its tongue alone weights about 3 tons (or about 2,700 kilograms). The largest animal on land, the African bush elephant – the whole thing, not just the tongue – weighs about six tons. Who IS the biggest, fastest, oldest, loudest, heaviest, longest lived, etc? Make a list of exciting animal facts.
Activity 8 – Animal Careers
What kind of work do people do with animals? Early on there were animal trainers, or people who captured wild lions, horses, bears, dogs, monkeys, and even falcons and taught them to stay close and to follow instructions. Some of the instructions were to entertain or do tricks, but many instructions were to protect people, pull heavy loads, carry them across great distances. Some animals are used to provide food. Study of animals is called zoology. Zoo keepers take care of the animals and animal habitats in zoos. Doctors who take care of animals when they become sick are called veterinarians, or vets. Apiarists take care of bees making honey. Pet groomers wash and trim your pets and even clean their ears, eyes and teeth! Animal wranglers bring animal movie stars to film sets and make sure they perform their best! Animal nutritionists study the best foods for animal. Animal trainers work with dolphins, lions, tigers and bears! What kind of animals do you love?
Check out Careers with animals!
- The African elephant is the largest land mammal in African.
- The frog is invertebrate animal.
- The starfish is vertebrate animal.
- Whales are mammal.
- The brown bear is the largest bear in the world.
- There are 7 species of penguin found in the Arctic Circle.
- The elephant is the only mammal that cannot jump.
- The barn owl is the quietest flyer in the bird world.
- Meerkats live alone by the river.
- Beavers live by the river and like building dams.
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