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By Michael Hutchins

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Early arthropods known as trilobites are an extinct group that have been extensively described from the fossil record. With regard to presentday species, some arthropods are free-living while others are parasitic. , Scorpio, scorpions; Epeira, web-spinning spiders). Mollusks are the second largest group in the animal kingdom, comprising around 100,000 known living species. , Mytilus, mussels; Loligo, squid; and Octopus), Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia although some are such well-known terrestrial animals as Helix, the land snail, and Limax, the garden slug.

The middle mesoderm layer becomes internal organs such as kidneys, reproductive systems, circulatory systems, and muscles. The inner endoderm layer will develop into the gut cavity and its derivatives, such as the stomach, intestine, and liver. Above the level of flatworms, all higher animals possess an additional mesodermal feature—a membrane-lined body cavity, or coelom. This feature is so important that these higher animals, which constitute more than 85% of animal species, are known collectively as coelomates.

The crab’s structural characteristics define it as a member of the phylum Arthropoda; the mouse’s structural characteristics define it as a member of the phylum Chordata. Since structure must come about through ontogeny, it stands to reason that each morphologically distinct phylum of animals must also have a distinctive ontogenetic pattern. So, taking it one step further, we can reason that an animal’s ontogeny (the developmental history of the individual), correlates with its phylogeny (the evolutionary history of the phylum).

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