Invertebrates are animals without a backbone or bony skeleton. They can be found on land or in water.
This is by far the largest group in the animal kingdom! 97 percent of all animals are invertebrates. So far, 1.25 million species have been described, most of which are insects, and there are millions more to be discovered. The total number of invertebrate species could be 5, 10, or even 30 million, compared to just 60,000 vertebrates.
Invertebrates are everywhere!
Invertebrates can live on land—like insects, spiders, and worms—or in water. Marine invertebrates include crustaceans (such as crabs and lobsters), mollusks (such as squids and clams), and coral.
Invertebrates are so successful and numerous due to their ability to reproduce quickly and adapt to changing and extreme environments.
Invertebrates need you. You need invertebrates.
Bees, butterflies, beetles, and other animals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce. Pollinator populations are changing. Many pollinator populations are in decline and this decline is attributed to pollution, the misuse of chemicals, disease, and changes in climatic patterns. Pollinators need help, but we know how to help them! If everyone – homeowners, local governments, national governments, and private industry – made the effort we could change the future for pollinators and secure our own.
Invertebrates serve as food for humans and are key elements in food chains that support birds, fish, and many other vertebrate species.
View species profiles below or click here to view a full list of invertebrates that live here at the Zoo.