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phyla
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Annelids: Powerful and Capable Worms
Annelids: Powerful and Capable Worms

Annelid worms have incredibly diverse ways of making a living.

Chordates: We’re All Family
Chordates: We’re All Family

An obscure worm-like animal called Amphioxus teaches us about our relatives.

Cnidarians: Life on the Move
Cnidarians: Life on the Move

These simple creatures invented movement.

Echinoderms: The Ultimate Animal
Echinoderms: The Ultimate Animal

Echinoderms show us that animals radically different from us, even ones without a brain, can be ultimately successful.

Flatworms: The First Hunter
Flatworms: The First Hunter

Flatworms look simple but they were the first animals with a distinct head with stereo senses.

Marine Arthropods: A Successful Design
Marine Arthropods: A Successful Design

The incredible diversity and dominance of arthropods in the ocean can be attributed to their extraordinarily adaptable body plan.

Molluscs: The Survival Game
Molluscs: The Survival Game

Molluscs have been masters in the survival game of life, evolving with new opportunities and new challenges.

Sponges: Origins
Sponges: Origins

Sponges often don’t even look alive, but an ancient sponge was actually the first animal.

Terrestrial Arthropods: The Conquerors
Terrestrial Arthropods: The Conquerors

Arthropods are all around us. They came onto land from the ocean and conquered the earth and the air.

behavior
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Annelids: Abarenicola, Burrowing Worm
Annelids: Abarenicola, Burrowing Worm

A burrowing worm is well adapted for its digging life style.

Annelids: Diopatra, Tube-Dwelling Worm
Annelids: Diopatra, Tube-Dwelling Worm

Tube-dwelling, mudflat worms are adapted to the rhythm of low and high tides.

Annelids: Leeches
Annelids: Leeches

Leeches have a unique feeding strategy: they feed on blood.

Annelids: Lumbricus, Earthworm
Annelids: Lumbricus, Earthworm

Earthworm digging and feeding contributes to the breakdown of organic material in the soil.

Annelids: Terrebellid, Spaghetti Worm
Annelids: Terrebellid, Spaghetti Worm

The spaghetti worm gets its name from its long feeding tentacles.

Arthropods: Blue Crab Molting
Arthropods: Blue Crab Molting

A blue crab struggles as its sheds its exoskeleton, leaving itself vulnerable with its new soft shell.

Arthropods: Dragonfly Larva Hunts Newt
Arthropods: Dragonfly Larva Hunts Newt

Dragonfly larvae are voracious predators in freshwater ponds.

Arthropods: Dragonfly Metamorphosis
Arthropods: Dragonfly Metamorphosis

After metamorphosis, a dragonfly adult sheds it skin and spreads its wings to dry in the air.

Arthropods: Horseshoe Crab
Arthropods: Horseshoe Crab

Watch as horseshoe crabs mate at the shoreline.

Cnidarians: Anemone Catches Goby
Cnidarians: Anemone Catches Goby

Though they look like flowers, anemones are active predators using cells with toxins to catch prey.

Cnidarians: Anemone Swims Away From Sea Star
Cnidarians: Anemone Swims Away From Sea Star

An anemone swims away from an attacking sea star.

Cnidarians: Anemones Fight
Cnidarians: Anemones Fight

Watch in time-lapse as anemones fight.

Cnidarians: Moon Jelly Life Cycle
Cnidarians: Moon Jelly Life Cycle

Moon jellies have a surprising way of reproducing.

Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Don Wobber’s Film
Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Don Wobber’s Film

Sea stars have social interactions—on a slower time frame than we’re used to.

Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Eating Dead Fish
Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Eating Dead Fish

Sea stars move in to feed on a dead fish.

Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Eating Mussel
Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Eating Mussel

Even though mussels can close-up tightly, sea stars successfully prey on them.

Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Pycnopodia Chases Snail
Echinoderms: Sea Star Time-lapse: Pycnopodia Chases Snail

Watch the voracious predatory sun star chase down a snail.

Echinoderms: Urchin Time-lapse Eating Kelp
Echinoderms: Urchin Time-lapse Eating Kelp

Time-lapse video shows how urchins actively graze on kelp.

Flatworms: An Invasive Flatworm Hunts Earthworms
Flatworms: An Invasive Flatworm Hunts Earthworms

Flatworms can be formidable predators.

Flatworms: Reproduction
Flatworms: Reproduction

An individual flatworm is both male and female. Watch two mate.

Molluscs: Blue-Ringed Octopus Warning Coloration
Molluscs: Blue-Ringed Octopus Warning Coloration

The venomous blue-ringed octopus warns potential predators with a flashy display.

Molluscs: Moon Snail Preys On Cockles
Molluscs: Moon Snail Preys On Cockles

One mollusc preys on another in an underwater drama.

Molluscs: Nautilus Regulates Its Buoyancy
Molluscs: Nautilus Regulates Its Buoyancy

X-rays show the chambers hidden within a nautilus’ shell.

Molluscs: Octopus Camouflage
Molluscs: Octopus Camouflage

Octopuses are quick-change artists in matching their environment—a superb defense.

Molluscs: Octopus Catching Crab
Molluscs: Octopus Catching Crab

An octopus is a formidable hunter.

Molluscs: Pycnopodia Chases Abalone
Molluscs: Pycnopodia Chases Abalone

An abalone is quite agile as it escapes a sea star.

Sponges: Filter Feeding Made Visible
Sponges: Filter Feeding Made Visible

Watch how quickly a sponge filters water to feed.

Sponges: Time-lapse of Sponge Cells Recombining
Sponges: Time-lapse of Sponge Cells Recombining

Sponges are the only animals whose cells can reassemble when broken apart.

scientist
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Bill Shear, Biologist: How Arthropods Left the Sea
Bill Shear, Biologist: How Arthropods Left the Sea

Bill Shear looks among fossilize plants for the first animals that invaded land.

Cristina Diaz, Taxonomist: Sponge Biology
Cristina Diaz, Taxonomist: Sponge Biology

Cristina Diaz conducts an experiment to see how sponges feed.

Damhnait McHugh, Ecologist: Annelid Ecology
Damhnait McHugh, Ecologist: Annelid Ecology

Damhnait McHugh is passionate about studying worms in their natural habitats.

Des Collins, Paleontologist: The Burgess Shale
Des Collins, Paleontologist: The Burgess Shale

Des Collins describes the difficulty and excitement of putting together fossils.

Gail Kaaialii, Marine Biologist: A Success Story: Echinoderms
Gail Kaaialii, Marine Biologist: A Success Story: Echinoderms

In Hawaii Gail Kaaialii dives with her students to observe remarkably successful animals—echinoderms.

Geerat Vermeij, Evolutionary Biologist: Reading A Shell’s Story
Geerat Vermeij, Evolutionary Biologist: Reading A Shell’s Story

Geerat Vermeij, a blind scientist, has spent his career studying the form and function of shells.

Ian Lawn, Neurobiologist: Anemone Nervous System
Ian Lawn, Neurobiologist: Anemone Nervous System

Ian Lawn looks at the first animals to have a nervous system—Cnidarians—and how the nerves produce behavior.

Jack Costello, Biologist: Why Jellyfish Swim
Jack Costello, Biologist: Why Jellyfish Swim

Jack Costello wants to understand why jellyfish swim since they don’t really move far.

James Hagadorn, Paleontologist: Traces of Early Animal Life
James Hagadorn, Paleontologist: Traces of Early Animal Life

James "Whitey" Hagedorn searches for traces of early inhabitants of an ancient sea.

Jenny Clack, Paleontologist: The First Vertebrate Walks on Land
Jenny Clack, Paleontologist: The First Vertebrate Walks on Land

Jenny Clack looks at fossils and fossilized footsteps to try to discover the first vertebrate to make the transition from the water to land.

John Pearse, Don Wobber, Biologists: Sea Star Behavior
John Pearse, Don Wobber, Biologists: Sea Star Behavior

John Pearse, a biologist who studies echinoderms, teamed up with Don Wobber to observe the secret lives of the slow and spiny.

Kristy Curry-Rogers, Paleontologist: How Dinosaurs Grow
Kristy Curry-Rogers, Paleontologist: How Dinosaurs Grow

Kristi Curry-Rogers looks inside fossil dinosaur bones to learn how quickly dinosaurs grew.

Matt Scott, Geneticist: How Genes Build Bodies
Matt Scott, Geneticist: How Genes Build Bodies

Matt Scott looks at the genes that build animal bodies.

Mitchell Sogin, Evolutionary Biologist: Proof of the First Animal
Mitchell Sogin, Evolutionary Biologist: Proof of the First Animal

Mitchell Sogin wants to know which animal was the first animal.

Peter Ward, Paleontologist: The Ancient Nautilus
Peter Ward, Paleontologist: The Ancient Nautilus

Peter Ward is excited to see his subject—the living fossil, the chambered nautilus—in its natural habitat.

animation
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Annelid Animation: Body Plan
Annelid Animation: Body Plan

Look inside an annelid’s body to see the inner working of the first animal with a one-way gut and organ systems.

Arthropod Animation: Millipede Breathing Tubes
Arthropod Animation: Millipede Breathing Tubes

Peel back a scorpion’s exoskeleton to see gills adapted to live on land.

Arthropod Animation: Scorpion Book Gills
Arthropod Animation: Scorpion Book Gills

Peel back a scorpion’s exoskeleton to see gills adapted to live on land.

Arthropod Animation: Swiss Army Knife
Arthropod Animation: Swiss Army Knife

A Swiss army knife becomes the tool kit that enables arthropods to dominate land.

Chordate Animation: Amphioxus to Vertebrate Body Plan
Chordate Animation: Amphioxus to Vertebrate Body Plan

Look inside a distant ancestor to see where we came from.

Cnidarian Animation: Anenome Body Plan
Cnidarian Animation: Anenome Body Plan

Look inside an anemone’s body to see the inner workings of the first animal with nerves and muscles.

Cnidarian Animation: Polyp and Medusa
Cnidarian Animation: Polyp and Medusa

Turn an anemone upside down and you get a jellyfish.

Echinoderm Animation: Five-part symmetry
Echinoderm Animation: Five-part symmetry

Observe how all echinoderm bodies have five-part symmetry.

Echinoderm Animation: Sea Star Body Plan
Echinoderm Animation: Sea Star Body Plan

Look inside a sea star to see the inner workings of an animal very different from us.

Flatworm Animation: Body Plan
Flatworm Animation: Body Plan

Look inside a flatworm’s body to see the inner working of the first hunter.

Flatworm Animation: Reproduction
Flatworm Animation: Reproduction

Flatworms are both male and female at the same time.

Flatworm Animation: Tapeworm
Flatworm Animation: Tapeworm

Tapeworms attach and feed inside the gut of mammals.

Marine Arthropod Animation: Body Plan
Marine Arthropod Animation: Body Plan

Observe how jointed legs brought variation to the arthropod body plan.

Mollusc Animation: Abalone
Mollusc Animation: Abalone

Look inside the abalone to see the inner workings of an extremely versatile body plan.

Mollusc Animation: Nautilus Body Plan
Mollusc Animation: Nautilus Body Plan

Look inside to see the inner workings of a shelled mollusc that left the bottom to swim.

Mollusc Animation: Shell Repair
Mollusc Animation: Shell Repair

A mollusc’s shell is an example of superb structural design.

Mollusc Animation: Squid Body Plan
Mollusc Animation: Squid Body Plan

Look inside a squid to see the inner workings of a fast swimming mollusc.

Nematocyst Animation: Feeding Tentacles
Nematocyst Animation: Feeding Tentacles

Nematocysts shoot barbed harpoons to catch prey.

Nematocyst Animation: Fighting Tentacles
Nematocyst Animation: Fighting Tentacles

Anemones fight each other using barbed harpoons.

Sponge Animation: Spicules
Sponge Animation: Spicules

See the fantastic microscopic spicules that support the sponge’s body.

Sponge Animation: Wild Ride Through a Sponge
Sponge Animation: Wild Ride Through a Sponge

Students become a tiny particle flying through the canals of a sponge.

other topics
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Arthropod Locomotion: Engineering
Arthropod Locomotion: Engineering

Robert Full studies arthropod locomotion to unlock the secrets of their success.

Bilateral Body Plan
Bilateral Body Plan

Most active animals have a bilaterally symmetrical body plan.

Cambrian Explosion
Cambrian Explosion

In a flash, over 500 million years ago, fantastic creatures suddenly appeared in the fossil record.

Cnidarians: Deep Sea Research
Cnidarians: Deep Sea Research

A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) finds that cnidarians are the dominant animal in the deep ocean.

Genetics: Genes Tell Us About Evolution
Genetics: Genes Tell Us About Evolution

Mitch Sogin searches the genes of various animals to find out which one gave rise to all the others.

Genetics: How Genes Direct Development
Genetics: How Genes Direct Development

All animals have a similar set of regulatory genes that direct the formation of the body, whether it’s a worm, frog or human.

Human Body Plan
Human Body Plan

The human body plan is built for fast action.

Introduction: A New View of the Evolution of Animals
Introduction: A New View of the Evolution of Animals

Recent scientific developments have created a new view of the evolution of the animal kingdom.

Paleontology: New Evidence Revises Thinking, Anomalocaris
Paleontology: New Evidence Revises Thinking, Anomalocaris

Des Collins tries to recreate an ancient animal from fossil pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.

Paleontology: Paleontologists Study Fossils
Paleontology: Paleontologists Study Fossils

Paleontologists can learn a great deal about ancient life from the fossils they study.

Paleontology: Paleontologists Study Tracks and Traces
Paleontology: Paleontologists Study Tracks and Traces

Fossilized tracks and traces are not only evidence of the presence of an animal but they reveal how an animal moved.

Taxonomy
Taxonomy

For centuries scientists have been organizing the diversity of life.

Ultimate Animal
Ultimate Animal

Mankind is not at the top of an evolutionary ladder. Every animal is uniquely adapted to win at the game of survival.

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