Vertebrates Vs. Invertebrates: 20 Differences & 8 Similarities

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Fish, An Example Of Vertebrate

Vertebrates comprise of all species of animals within the subphylum Vertebrata. A vertebrate is an animal with a spinal cord surrounded by cartilage or bone. Vertebrates are only 3% of all animals on Earth. There are currently about 65,000 known species of vertebrate animals. Vertebrates tend to have a complex nervous system and highly specified organs with specific functions. They also have a living endoskeleton made up of bones and cartilage.

In all vertebrates, the mouth is found at, or right below, the anterior end of the animal, while the anus opens to the exterior before the end of the body. The remaining part of the body continuing after the anus forms a tail with vertebrae and spinal cord. The five classes of vertebrates include:

  • Fish (Goldfish, Guppy, Northern pike, Wels catfish, Barramundi, Atlantic cod etc).
  • Amphibian (Frog, Salamander, Caecilian, Amphiuma,  labyrinthod ontia etc).
  • Reptiles (Snakes, Turtle, Lizard, Dinosaur, chameleons, crocodile etc).
  • Birds (Parrot, Pigeons, Owl, Swallow, Finches, Sparrow, Penguin etc).
  • Mammals (Rodent, Cetaceans, Bat, Primate, Bear, Deer, human beings, Lion, Cow, Bison etc).

Invertebrates can be described as animals that lack a vertebral column or backbone. Over 95% of all animal species on Earth are invertebrates. Invertebrates are incredibly diverse. They live in fresh water, salt water, on land and as parasites in other animals. Some invertebrates stay in one spot while others fly, swim, float, crawl and burrow. There are invertebrates that are herbivores (plant eaters), omnivores (meat and plant eaters) and carnivorous (meat eaters). The common types of invertebrates are:

  • Mollusks (snails, octopi, squid, snails, and clams).
  • Arthropods (insects, spiders, crustaceans such as shrimp, crabs, lobsters).
  • Echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumber).
  • Annelids (Earthworms, leeches).
  • Protozoans (single-celled organisms including amoeba and paramecia.
Snail, An Example of Invertebrate

Also Read: Difference Between Amphibian And Reptile

The Differences

Characteristics Of Vertebrates

  1. Vertebrates are animals that have a bony or cartilage vertebral column.
  2. Generally large and fast-moving animals.
  3. There are only five classes of vertebrates, that is fish, amphibian, reptiles, birds and mammals.
  4. They breathe through either gills or lungs.
  5. Vertebrates possess a stiff-supporting rod referred to as notochord in the mid-dorsal line beneath the nerve cord during the embryonic development stage.
  6. The central nervous system of vertebrates is a hollow tube, which is located in the mid-dorsal line.
  7. They comprise only 2-3% of the total animal species found on Earth.
  8. They have a living endoskeleton made up of bones and cartilage.
  9. They are warm-blooded animals. Their body temperature remains constant. It does not vary with the temperature of the outside environment.
  10. They are composed of two layers of skin: dermis and epidermis.
  11. Their heart is located on the ventral side of the body.
  12. They tend to have a complex nervous system and highly specified organs with specific functions.
  13. Vertebrates have red blood cells which contain hemoglobin.
  14. Vertebrates do not have more than two pairs of limbs.
  15. The eyes of the vertebrates occur as an outgrowth from the brain.
  16. Vertebrates have simple eyes.
  17. All vertebrates are unisexual animals.
  18. Have a closed circulatory system with only bilateral body symmetry.
  19. Their mode of nutrition is usually heterotrophic.
  20. The pharynx of vertebrates has pharyngeal clefts to increase the efficiency of breathing.

Characteristics Of Invertebrates

  1. Invertebrates are animals that do not have a backbone or a vertebral column.
  2. Generally small and slow-moving animals.
  3. There are thirty different classes of invertebrates which include: sponges, coelenterates (Ctenophora or comb jellies, sea anemones, sea pens and coral animals); echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers); worms, mollusks (squids, octopus, nails, bivalves) and arthropods (insects).
  4. Invertebrates have many ways of breathing, some use spiracles; some can pass oxygen through their skin while others have primitive ‘book’ lungs.
  5. A notochord is absent in invertebrates.
  6. The central nervous system of invertebrates is a solid tube, which is located in the mid-ventral line.
  7. They comprise more than 95% of the total animal species found on Earth.
  8. Some of the invertebrates have a hard non-living exoskeleton or shell.
  9. They are cold-blooded animals. Their body temperature varies with the outside temperature and remains equal to the outside temperature.
  10. They are composed of one layer of skin.
  11. Their heart is located on the dorsal side of the body.
  12. They tend to have a simple and unorganized nervous system.
  13. Invertebrates do not have red blood cells. Their respiratory pigments occur in the blood plasma.
  14. Invertebrates can have more than two pairs of appendages.
  15. The eyes of the invertebrates occur as an outgrowth of the skin.
  16. Most invertebrates have compound eyes.
  17. Most invertebrates including sponges, worms, snail and slugs are hermaphroditic animals.
  18. They have an open circulatory system with radial or bilateral body symmetry.
  19. Their mode of nutrition includes free-living, parasitic and heterotrophic.
  20. Invertebrates do not have pharyngeal clefts.

Also Read: Difference Between Chordates And Non-Chordates

Difference Between Vertebrates And Invertebrates In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON VERTEBRATES INVERTEBRATES    
Description Vertebrates are animals that have a bony or cartilage vertebral column.   Invertebrates are animals that do not have a backbone or a vertebral column.  
Body Size & Movement Generally large and fast-moving animals.   Generally small and slow-moving animals.  
Classification There are only five classes of vertebrates. There are thirty different classes of invertebrates.
Breathing They breathe through either gills or lungs.   They have many ways of breathing, some use spiracles; some can pass oxygen through their skin while others have primitive ‘book’ lungs.  
Notochord A notochord is present   A notochord is absent is absent.  
Central Nervous System (CNS) Their central nervous system is a hollow tube, which is located in the mid-dorsal line.   Their central nervous system is a solid tube, which is located in the mid-ventral line.  
Population Percentage On Earth They comprise only 2-3% of the total animal species found on Earth.   They comprise more than 90% of the total animal species found on Earth.  
Endoskeleton & Exoskeleton They have a living endoskeleton made up of bones and cartilage.   Some have a hard non-living exoskeleton or shell.  
Temperature Regulation They are warm-blooded animals. Their body temperature remains constant. It does not vary with the temperature of the outside environment.   They are cold-blooded animals. Their body temperature varies with the outside temperature and remains equal to the outside temperature.  
Layers Of Skin They are composed of two layers of skin: dermis and epidermis.   They are composed of one layer of skin.  
Location Of Heart Their heart is located on the ventral side of the body.   Their heart is located on the ventral side of the body.  
Nervous System They tend to have a complex nervous system and highly specified organs with specific functions.   They tend to have a simple and unorganized nervous system.  
Red Blood Cells (RBC) They have red blood cells which contain hemoglobin.   They do not have red blood cells. Their respiratory pigments occur in the blood plasma.  
Appendages/Limbs They do not have more than two pairs of limbs.   They can have more than two pairs of appendages.  
The Eyes The eyes of the vertebrates occur as an outgrowth from the brain.   The eyes of the invertebrates occur as an outgrowth of the skin.  
Type Of Eyes Most vertebrates have simple eyes. Most invertebrates have compound eyes.  
Sex All vertebrates are unisexual animals.   Most invertebrates including sponges, worms, snail and slugs are hermaphroditic animals.  
Circulatory System & Body Symmetry Have a closed circulatory system with only bilateral body symmetry.   They have an open circulatory system with radial or bilateral body symmetry.  
Mode Of Nutrition Their mode of nutrition is usually heterotrophic.   The mode of nutrition includes parasitic and heterotrophic.  
   
Pharyngeal Clefts The pharynx of vertebrates has pharyngeal clefts to increase the efficiency of breathing.   Invertebrates do not have pharyngeal clefts.  

Also Read: Difference Between Protostomes And Deuterostomes

Similarities Between Vertebrates And Invertebrates

  • They both show bilateral symmetry.
  • Both vertebrates and invertebrates have a functional nervous system.
  • Both vertebrates and invertebrates have a heart and a circulatory system.
  • Vertebrates and invertebrates belong to kingdom Animal.
  • Both can move
  • Both invertebrates and vertebrates can adapt to their environment easily.
  • They both can be found either on land or water.
  • Both vertebrates and invertebrates can reproduce and ‘respirate’.

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