Features of the Animal Kingdom

Free Response

Why might the evolution of specialized tissues be important for animal function and complexity?


The development of specialized tissues affords more complex animal anatomy and physiology because differentiated tissue types can perform unique functions and work together in tandem to allow the animal to perform more functions. For example, specialized muscle tissue allows directed and efficient movement, and specialized nervous tissue allows for multiple sensory modalities as well as the ability to respond to various sensory information; these functions are not necessarily available to other non-animal organisms.

Describe and give examples of how humans display all of the features common to the animal kingdom.


Humans are multicellular organisms. They also contain differentiated tissues, such as epithelial, muscle, and nervous tissue, as well as specialized organs and organ systems. As heterotrophs, humans cannot produce their own nutrients and must obtain them by ingesting other organisms, such as plants, fungi, and animals. Humans undergo sexual reproduction, as well as the same embryonic developmental stages as other animals, which eventually lead to a fixed and motile body plan controlled in large part by Hox genes.

How have Hox genes contributed to the diversity of animal body plans?


Altered expression of homeotic genes can lead to major changes in the morphology of the individual. Hox genes can affect the spatial arrangements of organs and body parts. If a Hox gene was mutated or duplicated, it could affect where a leg might be on a fruit fly or how far apart a person’s fingers are.