Insect from Atewa Forest Reserve, Ghana.
Most animal life on Earth belongs to groups other than vertebrates – vertebrates represent less than 5% of known animal species currently living on our planet. There is no single unifying characteristic for invertebrates, although they do not usually posses internal skeletal structures; some invertebrate groups have extensive exoskeletons (e.g., arthropods, mollusks). Invertebrate animals dominate, and are often directly responsible for the creation of all aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems on the planet.
While not considered primary producers (only plants are), their actions and existence make the life of other organisms possible. Examples of invertebrates include Oligochaeta (earthworms), Calcarea (sponges), Gastropoda (snails), Gordioidea (horsehair worms), Arachnida (spiders and relatives), Insecta (insects), Xiphosura (horseshoe crabs), and many, many others.
Invertebrates are a dominant force in the majority of ecosystems through their ecological function, species richness, and biomass; which is fitting since they represent over 95% of all known animals on the planet. As well as being food for other animals they play a number of critical roles including pollination, creation and aeration of soil, seed dispersal and decomposition. It is estimated that the ecosystem services that invertebrates provide are worth trillions of dollars annually to the US economy. About a third of the products that constitute our diet depend upon pollination by insects in either a direct or indirect way.
Learn more about a few of the many invertebrates we've found.
EXPLORE: Learn about more species found on the Nangaritza expedition in Ecuador
||White-faced Gnome Katydid
Only two females have been found of this tiny species.
This katydid has strongly reduced wings and in close contact with the female, the male appears to rely on vibration signals produced by rapid body shivering.
||Typophyllum sp. nov.
The group of “little walking leaves” has peculiar calling songs, which are almost pure sine waves with a very narrow frequency band.
This short-winged katydid is potentially new to science and possibly its own new genus as well, related to Brachyteleutias.
This beautiful katydid with the spiny crest is potentially new to science.
||Mystron sp. nov.
The genus Mystron has been described in 1999 for two new Ecuadorian species. This species is different and potentially new to science.
||Myopophyllum sp. nov.
The genus Myopophyllum contains only one described species from the Andes of central Ecuador.
This katydid feeds and hunts other katydids and insects – and will often sit-and-wait during the daylight hours with its outstretched legs waiting to pounce on its prey.
The katydid is certainly in trouble as its home slowly diminishes in size – and it likely does not occur anywhere else, so its future is uncertain.
This discovery stunned biologists across the world as it represented not only the finding of a new species to science, but also a new order of insects, the first in nearly a 100 years.
A large, extremely slender katydid that is new to science and mimics scrubby desert vegetation.
The male of this South Africa katydid has a quiet but audible call.
Amyttacta farelli katydid
This species cannot fly, and tends to be associated with the grasses in subtropical regions of South Africa.
Orthrus Jumping Spider
This jumping spider was found in the rainforest of the highlands wilderness in Papua New Guinea.
Uroballus jumping spider
Nothing is known about the ecology of this species of jumping spider.
CucudetA ZABKAI jumping spider
This small jumping spider that vaguely resembles an ant was found among leaves on the ground of the dense rainforest at Tualapa.
Yamangalea frewana jumping spider
This species belongs to the subfamily Cocalodinae, a highly distinctive group unique to New Guinea and region that previously had only two known genera.
Tabuina rufa jumping spider
This jumping spider was found on a tree in the rainforest. It is not only a species new to science, but Tabuina is a genus new to science.
Tabuina varirata jumping spider
Jumping spiders can jump to a height of at least 6 inches using blood pressure in their legs.
This highly unusual katydid is a fast, skillful hunter that chases and devours insects, such as treehoppers and small moths.
The RAP katydid
A small, flightless, but very agile katydid that is new to science and was discovered in low trees of the forest understory.