Animal Cells

All living creatures are made up of cells, but animal cells are different than any other kind of cell. When we look at plant cells we see that they can create their own food.

Animal cells can’t do that, although they do have other traits that are commonly shared. Cells act like the bricks or “building blocks” that maintain all of the body’s nerves, muscles, tissues, organs, and everything that the body is made of.

Cells act as a kind of management center to control the various body functions.  Although an animal cell is so tiny that you have to have a microscope to see it, they are pretty powerful.

Anatomy of an Animal Cell

Each cell has a designated job to do in maintaining life. We call the animal cell parts “organelles” and while they work independently, they also work together to keep everything running efficiently.

Millions of years ago, the original cells developed a nucleus or “center”, but that was surrounded by a hard wall. This didn’t allow the cells to interact and evolve.

A definition of an animal cell is a cell that has both organelles and a nucleus that are contained in a membrane that is flexible. This membrane is the important factor for the diversity of animal types throughout history and to freely move and form structures that are complex.

When looking at an animal cell under a microscope, the thing you first see is the nucleus. Inside the nucleus of an animal cell we find the nucleolus.

Some cells have a single nucleolus, and some have more. This is the organelle that houses the RNA (ribonucleic acid). It also houses long strands that are called chromatins.

When the time comes for the cell to duplicate itself, it makes use of the RNA and the DNA (di-ribonucleic acid) chromosomes.

Animal cell parts and their jobs

Animal cells contain a lot of parts or “organelles”, and each one has a specific job to accomplish to make sure the cell is healthy and plays a role in keeping the body functioning.

Here is a list of organelles in alphabetic order. As you read through each of the organelles, you will begin to understand how very complicated each animal cell is.

  • Cell membrane: The enclosure around the cell that controls molecules that are allowed to leave and enter the cell.
  • Centrioles: this assists a cell when it is dividing in a process called “mitosis” and “meiosis.”
  • Cytoplasm: Keeps all of the organelles of a cell in place.
  • Cytoskeleton: Just as it sounds, this is the skeleton or structure for cell support.
  • Endoplasmic reticulum: This makes and moves all of the chemical compounds both from and to the nucleus.
  • Golgi apparatus: It has the power to change fats and proteins inside the cell and gets them ready to move outside of the cell or to store them.
  • Lysosomes: This is the cell’s “waste management” system. It breaks down the waste into compounds that are simpler for use by other organelles.
  • Microfilaments: This is additional support for the structure of the cytoskeleton.
  • Microvilli: This absorbs nutrients needed by the cell and also helps in the movement of the cell.
  • Microtubules: Another added area of cytoskeleton structural support as well as plays an important role in chromosome connection when the cell divides.
  • Mitochondria: This changes the oxygen brought into the cell into energy and nutrients.
  • Nucleus: This is kind of like the “brain” of the cell because it manages all of the activities of the cell as well as being the home of the DNA.
  • Peroxisomes: Important for cell health, this takes toxic materials that enter the cell and digests them.
  • Ribosomes: A protein builder for use by the cell.
  • Secretory Vesicles: Controls elements that are released by the cell, including waste.
  • Vacuole: Maintaining a balanced PH level inside the cell and stores waste products.

Fun Animal Cell Facts

  • Cells can destroy themselves – If a cell is damaged, it will self-destruct so that it doesn’t cause harm to other cells. An example of this is when there is badly damaged DNA that shouldn’t be passed on in reproduction or to cells around it that may be affected by the damage.
  • Cells can also be self-repairing – When there is minor malfunctions, an animal cell can repair itself. This sometimes happens with small damage areas in the DNA or RNA strands, as well as other areas.
  • Animal stem cells are “Totipotency” – These stem cells are very powerful because they can be changed into any cell that the body requires. Their purpose is to act to immediately correct or fix any of the things that have gone wrong in other body areas.
  • Animal cells are like little factories – An animal cell contains everything that it needs to be self-sufficient so that it can do the job that is required.
  • Not every cell as a nucleus – Although most cells have a nucleus, there are some cells that have jobs that don’t require a nucleus. An example would be red blood cells that don’t have to multiply. Without a nucleus they can carry lots of extra hemoglobin inside.
  • 70% of the cell is water – The cell is made up of 70% water and 30% of miscellaneous proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and other substances.

Interesting Facts about Biology

  • Ever get goosebumps? Almost every human being has experienced goosebumps. This is actually the result of millions of years of evolving. Our muscles under the skin base tense and our bodies try to make our hair stand up in the same way that some animals do when they are threatened or afraid.
  • Our skin is considered to be a body organ and is the largest one that we have.
  • The largest living structure in the world is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is so large that its length has achieved 2,000 km
  • Remember that when you catch a common cold it’s due to a virus.
  • The idea of “fungus” is sometimes pretty gross, but both yeast and mushrooms are fungus types.

Animal Cells Quiz

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