Nature is made up of a great diversity of living things, including us humans. Inside, we can differentiate up to 5 kingdoms of nature: The animal, the plant, the fungus, the protist and the monarch or prokaryote.
Each kingdom shares a number of common characteristics. In this article, we will see what are the parameters that allow this classification, and what are the defining characteristics of each group. In addition, we mention examples from each realm.
The five kingdoms of nature and their characteristics
In the world of nature, there are 5 well-differentiated realms. The criterion which classified these domains of nature was proposed, in 1977, by the microbiologist Carl Woese. Currently, this classification is the most consensual among many scientists expert in the taxonomy of living things., And is based on other criteria.
The kingdoms of nature are:
- Animal kingdom
- The plant kingdom (plantae)
- The kingdom of mushrooms
- Protista kingdom
- The kingdom monera
The mentioned nature kingdoms share a number of characteristics (which differ in each of the kingdoms), and which are as follows.
1. Cell organization
This can be of two types: unicellular (single cell) or multicellular (millions of cells).). Examples of unicellular organisms are bacteria, algae and fungi, protozoa … And examples of multicellular organisms are: humans, mammals …
2. Cell type
The organism cell can be, as in the previous case, of two types: eukaryotic or prokaryotic. Eukaryotic cells (those of humans, for example) are those whose hereditary material (DNA) is enclosed in a double membrane.
Eukaryotic cells are much more complex than prokaryotic cells, Which in this case and unlike the previous ones, do not have a nucleus, and their DNA is located in the cytoplasm.
3. Types of reproduction
Reproduction can be of three types: sexual, asexual or sporulated reproduction.
Nutrition can also be of two types: heterotrophic or autotrophic. The first involves organic matter being turned into nutrients and energy, and the animal gets it from here. The second involves the body producing its own food, such as plants and some bacteria).
Living things can move autonomously (autonomous locomotion) or not move (stationary locomotion).
6. Types of breathing
Another characteristic shared by the realms of nature is their type of breathing, which it can be aerobic or anaerobic.
7. Other features
Finally, each of the five kingdoms has its own (unique) and differentiated characteristics.
What are the organisms of each kingdom like?
Let’s get to know the characteristics (and examples) of each of the fields of nature.
1. Animal kingdom
What is the shape of the animal kingdom? Living organisms that have the following characteristics: they are multicellular, heterotrophic, aerobically breathing, eukaryotic cells, which reproduce sexually (in most cases) and move autonomously.
In turn, this kingdom is divided into two groups: vertebrate organisms (with backbone or spine) and invertebrate organisms (No spine or articulated internal skeleton). The former are subdivided into: fish, reptiles, mammals, birds and amphibians; these, in turn, include: insects, worms and mollusks.
Some examples from the animal kingdom are: cows, tigers, lions, humans, bees, elephants, crocodiles, ostriches, penguins … In addition, some animals are microscopic, such as tardigrades.
2. Plant kingdom
The second of nature’s kingdoms, the plant kingdom (also called the plant kingdom), is made up of organisms that exhibit the following characteristics: multicellular, autotrophic, eukaryotic, immobile, anaerobic and reproducible in two ways; sexually or asexually.
The fact that they are autotrophic means that plants generate their own food, through the process of photosynthesis. In fact, they are the only ones to do so, along with some unicellular algae, belonging to the protist kingdom.
Examples of the vegetable kingdom are all types of plants (with or without flowers): magnolia, tulip, snow watermelon, banana tree, pine, royal fern …
3. Mushroom kingdom
The kingdom of mushrooms is the kingdom of mushrooms. In this case, they are organisms with the following characteristics: multicellular, aerobic, immobile, heterotrophic, with eukaryotic cells and which reproduce in three ways: by spores, sexually or asexually.
Oddly enough, this kingdom was included as one of the five kingdoms of nature in 1969, thanks to the classification of the American ecologist Robert H. Whittaker (1920-1980). More specifically, Whittaker established classification criteria based on cell type (prokaryote or eukaryote) and level of cell organization (unicellular or multicellular). He did this using the electric microscope.
But Whittaker went further and suggested including other classification criteria, already discussed throughout the article: type of nutrition (autotrophic or heterotrophic) and type of reproduction (sexual or asexual). Some examples of the mushroom kingdom are: the star mushroom, the fly swatter, the devil’s cigar, brewer’s yeast, amethyst lacaria …
4. Protist Kingdoms
The protist kingdom is characterized by the grouping of organisms which, by their characteristics, they cannot be included in any other realm. It is therefore in a way a “tailor’s drawer”, because it includes both unicellular and multicellular organisms, autotrophic and heterotrophic, with sexual and asexual reproduction, and so on.
Within the prokaryotic kingdom there are protozoa (or protozoa) and algae. Historically, it is the domain of the “earliest eukaryotic life forms”, and has been regarded as such since 1866, when the German naturalist Erndt Haeckel (1834-1919) included it in the classification of the five kingdoms of nature. However, in his original proposal, Haeckel included all unicellular organisms in the protist kingdom.
Examples of the Protist kingdom (and which you have probably heard little) are: Amoeba, gregarina, Paramecium, Volvox, Coanozoos, Stentor, cercomonas …
5. Kingdom of Monera
Finally, the last of the kingdoms of nature is the brown kingdom, also called the prokaryotic kingdom. In this kingdom we find all unicellular and prokaryotic organisms; they are therefore microscopic beings. They are the only organisms with cells without a defined nucleus. Its genetic material is the simplest of all the kingdoms.
These organisms were first defined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866. Later, biologist Herbert Copeland (1902-1968) also included bacteria in this group. Some examples of the monera kingdom are: Clamydia bacteria, Escherichia coli bacteria, Lactobacillus casei, Clostridium botulinum, Sorangium cellulosum, Bifidobacteris, Serpulina …
- Campbell N. and Reece J. (2007). Biology. Pan-American Editorial.
- Raven PH; Evert RF and SEEichhorn. (1991). Plant biology, 2 vol. Ed. Reverté, SA