The Animal Kingdom
Inside the Outdoors, February 16,

Ask anyone what’s the first animal that comes to mind and one may state a deer, bear, or even an elephant. But wonder if I was to state that a trout or a millipede is an animal as well. I can already hear some people saying, “Pee Vee, you have fallen off your rocker!”

It’s true those creatures are all members of the animal kingdom.

I really never gave it much thought, as I presume others didn’t either, when in writing my latest book, A Talk With Delbert And Other Creatures of Southwestern Pennsylvania, I told friends and family I interviewed nine animals and one turkey in the woods of Latrobe and Unity Township.

Then one day, I got inkling to call Powdermill Nature Reserve and ask someone there if a turkey was an animal? The answer I received amazed me. I didn’t know this fine-feathered friend that was classified as a game bird was also an animal. I could have been blown away like a feather.

A couple days later I was talking to parishioners in church about my discovery and a gent approached me and asked, “Is then a cardinal considered an animal?” I didn’t know. We both decided upon arriving home to Google it and find out the truth to the matter.

Yes, folks, it is, much to my amazement. Previous to his question, I really gave it no thought just how many creatures made up the animal kingdom and that some of the creations that may have been considered in another classification were actually animals. It’s hard to imagine that a sponge attached to a rock, a lion, and a ladybug are all in the same kingdom.

Then I practically went into shock when I found out in one website that there are one million species in the animal kingdom. They are divided into vertebrates and invertebrates.

The vertebrates have a backbone. They include: reptiles, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Those that don’t have a backbone, the invertebrates, include: protozoa, flatworms, annelid worms, echinoderms, coelenterates, mollusks, arachnids, crustaceans, insects, and myriapods.

So that ‘thing’ you called a bug is in the same classification as you and me. Go figure…

I heard someone once say, “Be kind to your animal friends…” I can see doing so to a dog, cat, or even a pet rabbit, for instance, but a mosquito, leech, or toad? Well, what is good for the goose has to be good for the gander. It puts light in a whole new perspective.

Getting down to the specifics, some members are made up of one cell, such as bacteria, while others have more than one cell. Members of our kingdom must seek and eat other organisms. We cannot make our own food.

In my research it was hard to find something classified that wasn’t an animal. I came up with three – certain plants, fungi, and prokaryote cells that have a cell wall, which is a rigid outer layer that gives cells structure (reference). Animal’s cells do not have this structure.

By the way, if you want to learn about ten animals in our backyard, my book, “A Talk With Delbert And Other Creatures of Southwestern Pennsylvania, may be purchased locally through The Latrobe Art Center,, or through me. For additional information contact me.


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A unique, creative way to educate readers as to the habits of wildlife found in their backyards, A Talk With Delbert And Other Creatures Of Southwestern PA is entertaining and informative for adults and kids alike. Cost is $16.50 plus tax where applicable. Shipping extra. To get the book visit PeeVee's website.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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