Examples of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Animals

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 7, 2018
Examples of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Animals

Are you looking for examples of vertebrate and invertebrate animals? Planet Earth has extensive biodiversity, which is traditionally classified into taxonomic ranks, although scientists are always re-thinking these categories. The first of these ranks is domain; Archea, Bacteria and Eukarya. The last one includes all living organisms the cell - or cells - of which have a nucleus and therefore includes animals. The domain Eukarya includes five or six kingdoms; Animalia, Fungi, Plantae, Protista and Monera (which can be spit into Eubacteria and Archaebacteria).

The animal kingdom - Animalia - includes human beings. The species of this group are characterized by feeding on plants or other animals and using their sensory organs to interact with what's around them.

‘Animals’, in turn, are classified into multiple lower categories and ranks. Roughly, we can make the distinction between vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to discover the characteristics of both groups, and the animals that belong to each one.

You may also be interested in: Major Groups of Invertebrate Animals

What are vertebrate animals?

The main characteristic of this group of animals is that they possess vertebrae. Commonly known as a spine, this is a highly specialized bone-type which joins together to compose a backbone. Its function is to protect and sustain the spinal cord and connect it to the nervous system. These animals are distinguished by their bilateral symmetry, and the fact that they have a skull to protect their brain.

The bodies of vertebrate animals are divided into head, trunk and limbs, while some species also have a tail. Another important feature is that vertebrates have different sexes. There are approximately 62,000 animal species that belong to this group, so we have a wide range to choose our examples.

One of the important ways to differentiate between vertebrates and invertebrates are their skeletons. Vertebrates will have some kind of endoskeleton. This means a skeleton which is on the inside of the body, either under the skin or further under tissue. This skeleton is not always made up of bone. Some fish and marine animals, for example, mainly have cartilage to support their frame. One fish, known as the hagfish, has some debate over whether they are a vertebrate. Although they have a cranium (skull), they do not actually have vertebrae. Instead they have a notochord, similar to vertebrae in that it runs the length of their body, but which much more flexible and supple. This allows them to curl easily.

However, there are vertebrates which also have part of their skeleton on the outside (an exoskeleton)[1]. These animals such as a turtle which have the bones inside their body, but also have a hard shell which is used for protection. In fact, it is believed that the carapace (the turtle's shell) is derived purely form endoskeletal ribs[2]. Other reptiles have large scales on the outside of their skin which are used for protection.

The vertebrae is very important in housing the central nervous system of vertebrates. This system sends signals up and down the vertebrae to relay messages about movement, pain or any physical response the body might need. If the vertebrae is damaged, then these signals may not be able to transmit, resulting in incapacitation.

Grouping any animal, whether vertebrate or invertebrate, requires a very complicated taxonomic organization. The taxonomy (grouping) of the animal kingdom starts with all living organisms, subdividing into different parts from major groups into individual species. One stage in this subdivision is the phyla which can be loosely described as being grouped according to body structure. Whether or not an animal has a backbone is a very important aspect because it affects so many aspects of how they live.

Examples of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Animals - What are vertebrate animals?

What are invertebrate animals?

Invertebrates are characterized by their lack of vertebrae, i.e. they don't have a backbone. We don't mean this as a slight against their character, but invertebrates are often seen as being not a sophisticated as vertebrate animals. This is not true, of course. They just exist in a different way and are adapted to their environment differently. Although we tend to think of vertebrates when we talk about animals, the truth is that invertebrates make up the majority of the animal kingdom - around 95% of all animal species.

Invertebrate animals aren't able to colonize territories or adapt to different environments, unlike vertebrate animals. Examples of invertebrates and their habitat include jellyfish which live in the sea, bees which fly in the air and earthworms which live underground.

No invertebrate will have a spine, but they can have a skeleton, i.e. a supporting structure. Many insects ( such as the grasshopper seen in the picture below) have exoskeletons which they may even shed. This supports and protects their body. A common example of an invertebrate with an exoskeleton is a cockroach which is infamous to humans for being resilient. However, there are invertebrates which have an endoskeleton. An octopus has an endoskeleton, although it is very soft and not made from bone like many vertebrates.

As there are so many more invertebrate species than vertebrates, their taxonomic groups are vast. There are different types of land animals such as insects and worms. However, these too are very broad groups and there are many different types of worms with various body structures. Many marine animals are invertebrates and don't have much of a body structure at all, such as jellyfish. This is not to mention other fascinating parts of their body structure such as tentacles[3] and the slime like substance which constitutes most of their body. Whether the invertebrate lives in the ocean or the desert, there are various examples which we can provide below.

Examples of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Animals - What are invertebrate animals?

Examples of vertebrate animals

Vertebrate animals can be categorized into 5 main groups: Mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles. The following are examples of vertebrate animals, some of them given by their generic names; when we say "deer", we mean that all the species of deer are vertebrates, for instance. We can't give you a full vertebrate animals list as we don't have the space. Many of these animals we only know from fossils as they are currently extinct.

We can give you a list of vertebrates which are well-known to give you an idea of what we mean.





  • Chinese giant salamander
  • Common frog
  • European fire-bellied toad
  • Goliath frog
  • Iberian ribbed newt
  • Leaf green tree frog
  • Panamanian golden frog
  • Pool frog
  • Red-eyed tree frog
  • Rough-skinned newt
  • Spotted salamander
  • South American caecilian
  • Tiger salamander


Examples of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Animals - Examples of vertebrate animals

Examples of invertebrate animals

Invertebrates are not a taxon like vertebrates are, but rather a generic name for all the animals that do not have a vertebral column or spine. There are millions of invertebrate species, as more animals do not have a spine than have one.

Some invertebrates have shells, part of their exoskeletons. Others have a skeleton filled with fluid, that is, a hydrostatic skeleton. Some of them have legs, while others do not. Among the best-known invertebrate phyla we can find the following (we have included examples of invertebrate animals to give you an idea):

  • Annelids: Ringed or segmented worms, including earthworms and leeches.
  • Arthropods: Animals with a segmented body, appendages and an exoskeleton, including arachnids like scorpions and spiders, crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimp, and insects like ants, bees, beetles, butterflies, crickets, dragonflies, flies, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, moths, praying mantises and stick insects.
  • Cnidaria: Aquatic animals made up of a fluid substance, including corals, jellyfish and sea anemones.
  • Echinoderms: Spiny, radial marine animals including sea cucumbers, sea urchins and starfish.
  • Molluscs: Terrestrial and aquatic, include bivalves like mussels and oysters, cephalopods such as cuttlefish, squids and octopus and gastropods like slugs and snails.
  • Porifora: Jelly-textured animals with porous bodies through which water can circulate. Examples of invertebrate animals in this category are underwater sponges.
Examples of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Animals - Examples of invertebrate animals

How are animals classified?

Owing to the large number of vertebrate and invertebrate animal species, it is practically impossible to make an exhaustive list that accounts for all animals. However, it is easy to differentiate them roughly and classify them depending on whether they have a spine or not.

There are many different ways of classifying animals. One of them is their morphology and anatomy - vertebrate or invertebrate - but animals are also classified according to their diet. Stay with us to discover:

If you want to read similar articles to Examples of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Animals, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.


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Althea Jane Salve
I searched in google how to protect vertebrates animals, then I saw this page and I click it because the title says that "what does it mean to successfully conserve (vertebrates) species......." but when I saw the article, the article was talking about the meaning of vertebrate and invertebrate animals. I need a good answer for my question please 😭. BUT ACTUALLY IT ALSO HELPSπŸ˜€ MEπŸ™‹ IN MY RESEARCH TOO, OF THE MEANING OF VERTEBRATE AND INVERTEBRATE ANIMALSπŸ‘Œ tHANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOUπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
No one
I cant see common invertebrate animals I just need it asap because I will pass it tommorow
Administrador AnimalWised

There is a list of invertebrate animals at the bottom. Good luck!
Railey Jiroh Abris
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Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Railey,

We're so glad we could be of help!
teresa stoppler
Can I give my little dog and cat CBD oil in they,re drinking water and how much?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Teresa,

Thanks for the question. CBD oil is a relatively recent phenomenon, but there is some evidence to suggest it has benefits for certain human conditions. However, there are few conclusive studies and the methodology is not always up to standard. Studies for dogs are equally, if not more so, lacking in conclusive evidence.

There is little evidence to suggest CBD oil will do much damage, but it is generally used to maintain a calm state of well-being or to reduce aches and pains (again, effectiveness is not yet conclusively proven). If your dog does not have anxiety or is not in pain, then there is little reason to give them it at all. While there may not be much evidence to support severe side effects, some symptoms such as diarrhea may occur. For these reasons, there is little reason to put your dog at risk of potentially bad side effects (even if they are mild) when there is no provable benefit to them. More important is meeting their nutritional needs, reducing stress and providing sufficient mental and physical stimulation.
Hi i agry with you
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Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Bobby,

Thanks for the kind words. If you click on the link of the lists of animals you'll get even more pictures to browse for the individual animal. Hope you enjoy having a look around!
bob smith
it really helped me
Administrador AnimalWised
Hey Bob,

We're really glad to hear it!
monthusi maphakela
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