An invertebrate is any animal that lacks a backbone. Most lack an internal skeleton entirely, but some, such as cephalopods, have primitive internal skeletons (Gladius). This includes mollusks, crustaceans, jellyfish, echinoderms, arachnids (spiders), insects and many others, with an estimated 97-98% of all animal species being invertebrates, and the remaining 2-3% being vertebrates.
Invertebrates inspire fear or disgust in many people for various reasons, including their appearance and the often unfamiliar crawly sensation that accompanies the touch of legs and feelers against the skin. Most are actually harmless to man and in many cases they play a much larger role in an ecosystem than other animals. As a result, invertebrates have often been used as monsters in myth and legend, such as the Kraken, based on the giant squid, and Arachne from Greek mythology.
A number of people keep invertebrates as pets. Most common are tarantulas, mantises and Madagascan hissing roaches, but other species are known to be domesticable as well. Some invertebrates have been domesticated by humans for agricultural purposes, such as honey bees.
Arthropods (from the Greek árthron, meaning joint, and podos, meaning leg or foot), are the most diverse phylum of invertebrates, consisting of an estimated 80% or so of all animal species. They contain the insects, arachnids, crustaceans, myriapods (millipedes and centipedes), and others.
Arthropods are known for their hard exoskeletons comprised of chitin and often reinforced with calcium carbonate, distinct body segments, distinct limb jointing and six or more limbs (with all insects having exactly six limbs).
Fictional invertebrates in media
Some of the most well-known invertebrate characters in mainstream media include:
- Jiminy Cricket from Walt Disney's animated feature, Pinnochio
- Charlotte, a spider from children's book by E. B. White, Charlotte's Web
- Sebastian, a crab from Disney's animated feature, The Little Mermaid
- Q-Bee, a humanoid bee from Capcom's fighting game Darkstalkers
- Z (W:Z-4195), General Mandible, and Princess Bala, ants from DreamWorks Studios' animated feature, Antz
- Flik from Disney's animated feature, A Bug's Life
- Barry B. Benson, a bee from DreamWorks Studios' animated feature, Bee Movie
- Hoppity the Grasshopper, a grasshopper from the Fleischer Studios, Mr. Bug Goes to Town
Invertebrates and furry
While some will prefer to make invertebrate anthros with full features such as exoskeleton, antennae, multiple limbs and abdomen, most make use of a minimal set of features - typically only antennae, wings (when present in the actual species) and body patterns, with exception of spiders, which are usually portrayed with six legs plus body patterns. Another known concept is the one of a drider, a D&D-based concept which consists of a taur form with the lower body being of a spider.
Most anthropomorphic invertebrate characters tend to be arthropods, perhaps because of their ubiquitous presence across the world. In particular, invertebrate characters tend to be insects or arachnids.
The level of anthropomorphism tends to vary considerably, for example between retaining the limb number, a full exoskeleton, compound eyes, wings, mandibles, etc., with considerable differences between characters; for example, a character with a more humanoid looking exoskeleton might have mandibles, whereas another might have a more insectoid exoskeleton but a humanoid mouth, and so on.
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