Superphylum Ecdysozoa: Arthropods

Section Summary

Arthropods represent the most successful animal phylum on Earth, both in terms of the number of species and the number of individuals. As members of the Ecdysozoa, all arthropods have a protective chitinous cuticle that must be periodically molted and shed during development or growth. Arthropods are characterized by a segmented body as well as the presence of jointed appendages. In the basic body plan, a pair of appendages is present per body segment. Within the phylum, traditional classification is based on mouthparts, body subdivisions, number of appendages, and modifications of appendages present. In aquatic arthropods, the chitinous exoskeleton may be calcified. Gills, tracheae, and book lungs facilitate respiration. Unique larval stages are commonly seen in both aquatic and terrestrial groups of arthropods.