Terrestrial Animals: Definition, Characteristics and Types

The land animals, Defined by zoology, are those that comprise those who inhabit the earth. Your body is ready to crawl, walk, run, climb or jump, depending on the ecosystem in which they live.

Unlike aquatic, aerial or air-terrestrial animals, terrestrial animals spend most of their time and fulfill most of their biological processes and vital functions in the terrestrial soil.

land animals

There are different types of terrestrial animals, which differ from each other by their body structure, their form of locomotion or their feeding.

According to scientific records, this type of animal inhabited the Earth for about 530 million years, with different evolutionary processes throughout history.

Not being a homogeneous group, their differences are substantial. On the one hand, they are of enormous size and also so small that they can not be identified by human sight; On the other, more independent or dependent, and in turn more predominant in their surroundings or less. However, they all share something in common: to dwell on the land.

While they fulfill most of their vital functions on Earth, most species need water and air to subsist. For example, terrestrial species breathe through the lungs, taking oxygen from the air to be able to live.

As the feeding of terrestrial animals is based on plants, roots, fruits, leaves, meat of other animals or other living organisms, also having a great development of the senses to interact and coexist with the environment and other species. The sight, the smell and, to a lesser extent, the ear are its three main guides.

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Classification of land animals

Terrestrial animals can be classified into different taxonomic categories, one of them being according to the place where they live on land. In this line exist three possible types, saxícolas, arenícolas or troglobitas

The saxícolas are the terrestrial animals that live in the rocks. Sanders are those who do it in the sand and the troglobites, in the caves.

Vertebrates Or invertebrates

On the other hand, terrestrial animals differentiate among themselves by the internal composition of their bodies, which in zoology is called their body structure and determines many of their vital functions.

There are two types: vertebrates, which are those species that have a spine with some kind of bone or cartilaginous structure, such as mammals; And invertebrates, which lack any kind of internal structure, such as worms.

According to his phyla

Another taxonomic form of classifying the terrestrial animals is according to its edge. The phylum, in zoology is a category of classification that lies between the kingdom (animal) and the class, which will depend on how they mobilize.

According to the current records can be divided into land animals in 10 different phyla:

  • Platelminto: this category corresponds to invertebrate organisms and comprises about 20 thousand different species.
  • Nemertinos: is a classification that includes some species of worms, all of them less than 20 centimeters in length.
  • Annelids: with almost 170 thousand species, this cutting edge of animals describes organisms that are in humid places, have a ringed body and shaped like worms.
  • Tardígrados: Known for being the strongest animals in the world, this cutting edge applies to terrestrial animals that are characterized by being invertebrates, prototypes, segmented and microscopic. The tardigrades are also known as"water bears"because of their way of moving and their appearance.
  • Arthropods: they are the most numerous of the 10 that apply to terrestrial animals and comprise more than 1,200,000 species. It is also the most diverse cutting edge and is mostly about insects, one of the most varied species on the planet.
  • Onicóforos: is one of the smallest cuttings and with less number of recorded copies, it comprises only 100 species. However it is one of the oldest of which is registered with more than 515 million years of existence and is mostly concerned with microscopic animals with claws.
  • Molluscs: there are about 100 thousand live species of this cutting edge on the planet, while another 35 thousand are extinct. They are soft-bodied invertebrates, naked or protected by a shell.
  • Nematodes: is the fourth largest edge of the animal kingdom according to the zoological records, comprises up to 500 thousand species, which are mostly round worms.
  • Chordata: it is a rare edge for terrestrial animals, since they are mostly aquatic organisms but they exist and they have an elongated physiognomy.
  • Rotifers: the terrestrial animals that make up this phylum are microscopic organisms that live in humid places. Rotifers cover about two thousand species.

Herb I Voros , Omnivores and carnivores Voros

Terrestrial animals can also be classified according to their diet, depending on the foodstuffs used to get the nutrients needed to fulfill their life cycle.

Zoology defined three types of species that differentiate each other according to how they balance their diets, ie: carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.


They are those animals that feed on meat and get their nutrients and energies from the ingestion of the remains of other species.

There are in this category hunters, predators and scavengers, which are defined by the way they get their food.

While hunters or predators search for and obtain their own prey, scavengers on land eat remains of other dead animals that have previously been swallowed by another species.

Carnivorous animals have a more complex stomachs than herbivores or omnivores, have more developed muscles, claws or fangs that allow it to destroy the resistance of the tissues with greater ease to swallow their prey.

Within this category there are different types of food: strict carnivores, who only eat meat and are not fit to feed on vegetables; The flexible ones, which can consume a small amount of plant foods.

Occasional, on the other hand, who consume meat for long periods of time in the absence of other foods; Hypercarnivores, whose diet is based on 70% of meat, and the hypocarnivores, whose food needs 30% of meat. Some examples of carnivorous land animals are lions, hyenas, dogs, snakes and tigers, among others.

As for herbivores, are those terrestrial animals whose diet is based exclusively on plants, grasses, grasses and all types of vegetables present on the planet. These species do not need the consumption of meat in order to survive but they are not vegetarians exclusively, but some species need to ingest some derivatives of the animal kingdom like honey, eggs, etc.

However, there are different types of species within herbivorous terrestrial animals classified according to how they consume food. These are: ruminant herbivores, simple stomach herbivores and compound stomach herbivores.

Ruminant herbivores are a particular type of terrestrial animals, which have sufficiently adapted and developed legs to flee if they feel threatened. In addition, they are characterized by having the ability to swallow large amounts of food in a very short time and grind it later, when necessary for the body.

This food process is known as rumia and occurs mainly when the animal is in a state of rest.

The ruminant herbivores have a stomach composed of four compartments: belly, net, book and curd, which participate in the food process in that order. An example of this type of terrestrial animals are the giraffes.

Simple stomach herbivores are characterized by consuming large amounts of fiber from vegetables and have a digestive system with little synthesis, which determines the amount of food they can ingest. An example are rabbits and horses.

The compound stomach herbivores are similar to simple stomach herbivores with the difference that it has more complex digestive processes, which allow it to further synthesize the nutrients and consume more food and with heavier compositions. Goats, zebras and elephants are some of these animals.


They are terrestrial animals that have a mixed diet, in which they eat both meat and vegetables, which facilitates the adaptation to different types of ecosystem.

These species have a more developed digestive apparatus than herbivores and carnivores, which allows them to be able to digest different types of food.

Omnivorous terrestrial animals have a special jaw, which combines different types of teeth to be able to grind different types of tissues. For example within this group they are the bears, the pigs, the ostriches and the hedgehogs.

Within the omnivores exist a great subclass that groups to those animals that mainly feed on fruits, leaves, seeds, roots or stems and are called scientifically frugivorous.

Bipeds or quadrupeds

Another possible classification relates to how terrestrial animals move and move on land.

Zoology defined two possible types: bipeds, which are the species that only use two legs as support and means of locomotion in the earth, such as hens and ostriches, among others; And quadrupeds, which move on four legs, such as cats, giraffes and elephants, among others.

According to the type of ecosystems

Terrestrial animals also differ in their classification according to their adaptation to the environment in which they live, depending on the abiotic factors of each biome.

Zoology has classified seven different types of ecosystems, among which are: desert, tundra, tropical forest, taiga, sheet, prairie and jungle.


Although living conditions in this type of ecosystem require extreme adaptation of species, there are places on the planet with a large variety of terrestrial animals, as well as plants that serve as food.

Regardless of the kingdom to which the species belong, they need to be able to conserve large amounts of water and withstand temperature changes to adapt to this ecosystem.

Some examples of terrestrial animals living in the desert are snakes, lizards, some families of non-flying insects, such as beetles and ants, there are also some arachnids and mammals, such as mice, foxes, jackals, camels and turtles.


Although they present a long season without rains, to differences of the deserts, the tundras present / display a climate in extreme cold, with temperatures below zero that causes the terrestrial surface to freeze during the winter and thaws (few centimeters) in summer .

These conditions, and the lack of vegetables or other types of food, complicate the development of living organisms. Reindeer are an example of terrestrial animals that live on the tundra.

Tropical forests

They are completely different from the deserts and tundras, this type of ecosystem presents / displays abundant rains, what makes one of the places with more species of the planet.

They are generally found in intertropical zones, between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and have an average temperature of 25º c with variable humidity.

These conditions make it possible for different species to develop their lives in tropical forests, where a large number of families of land animals are housed.

There are different types of tropical forests: tropical dry forests, monsoon, rainforest and tropical rainforests. Antelopes, deer, wild boar, tapirs, snakes, worms and snails, are some species that inhabit this biome.


It is the most predominant ecosystem on the planet, they are full of green spaces and are also known as boreal forests. One of its main characteristics are coniferous trees, which make up the largest forest mass on Earth.

In the taiga the climate varies considerably depending on the seasons of the year. Thus, winter has abundant snowfall and extreme cold, with temperatures below zero, while in the summer temperatures reach 20 ° C average.

The presence of tall trees and all very close together makes the species living in this biome have extra protection for wind and cold.

Many land animals live in this ecosystem, some throughout the year, others lead migrations according to the climate and available resources.

Due to its vegetal composition, in the taiga there are abundant herbivorous species such as reindeer, deer, foxes, but also live bears, wolves, weasels and mice.

Bed sheet

Characterized by their brown tones, this type of ecosystem presents tropical prairies, with small trees, open forests and huge grasslands.

Because of their thermal variation, savannas are mostly dry areas, which could be described as a transition between jungles and deserts, alternating between arid and rainy periods.

Its soil is clayey with a surface that seems impermeable, what makes of this ecosystem an arid place, with little presence of minerals.

However, there is a wide variety of land animal species that inhabit the savannas, such as antelopes, zebras and giraffes.


Also known as steppes, this type of biome has irregular and intermittent rainfall, with areas populated with plains.

Their living conditions vary according to the seasons of the year, due to the climatic variation. The prairies are warm and dry during the summer months, while they are cold and slightly wetter on winter days.

Some species of terrestrial animals that live in the prairies are horses, gazelles, antelopes, bison, lions, among others.


This ecosystem presents different scientific denominations like jungle or rainy forests and one of its distinguishing characteristics is its leafy vegetal density.

Its climate presents / displays long seasons of rains, heat and humidity, which facilitates the development of the life of diverse species of different kingdoms, being the zone with greater quantity of alive beings registered of the planet.

The great quantity and the quality of the oxygen, make of the forests a propitious place for the life of the terrestrial animals, between which they stand out the ants, the stick insects, the anacondas, the monkeys, the caymans, the tapirs, the turtles , Otters and rats, among others.

Other features

The terrestrial animals in their totality present scientific difficulties to be a strictly defined group, since by their own characteristics they differ much of one to another species and only share the fact to live in the earth.

Even many of these animals have a biological dependence on other spaces such as air and water, which further complicates their taxonomic classification. In this classification can be found the Airfield animals .

Some species migrate from land to water, depending on their life cycle or the different seasons, while many need aqueous biomes for their preservation as species.

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