Animal Cells: The Basics
Did you know that your body is made of trillions of tiny, individual cells? Each animal cell has a unique job to do, and a unique destiny.
Humans, animals and plants; we may be different in our own ways, but we share on common thread – cells.
Cells are part of a living function that combine with their own vital and important role. Complex and detailed, each serves its own use.
In humans and animals, cells can be found in our blood, hair/fur, muscles, eyes and so forth. Cells are also in tree bark, fish, monkeys, and rainforests.
In this article, you’ll learn more about animal cells.
What Are Animal Cells?
The cell is the basic unit of life. An animal cell’s size and shape can vary. For instance, when you hold a chicken egg, you are actually holding one single cell. The largest animal cell by weight is the ostrich’s egg, which can weigh over three pounds. Most animal cells, though, are very small, or microscopic. Cells are different from ordinary proteins, in that they can replicate themselves and evolve. This is an important part of evolution since cells have adapted over the years to their environment.
What Are the Different Animal Cell Parts and Functions?
There’s a lot going on inside these tiny cells. Similar to the way you have organs, animal cells have what are referred to as organelles. Inside each cell is a sac of proteins each performing different functions.These functions have been created over years and years of evolution. Here are some of them as outlined in the U.S National Library of Medicine:
Cell Membrane – The membrane of the cell forms a protective outer shell. Being semi-permeable it separates the cell from outside elements, allowing only certain molecules in.
Centrosomes – Centrosomes organize microtubules, think of them as hollow rods which create the form and shape.
Centrioles – Centrioles are cylinders made of proteins that are found in a cell’s centrosome.
Cytoplasm – This is the jelly-like substance inside the cell – a material that can be found within the membrane.
Endoplasmic Reticulum – ER for short, this forms the transport system for the important proteins in the cell, split in to two groups: smooth ER and rough ER.
Golgi Complex – This is the packing center of the cell, sending proteins to specific destinations.
Lysosomes – Lysosomes are enzyme-filled sacs that digest nutrients and cell wastes.
Mitochondria – This organelle has an important job. It keeps the rest of the cell going by supplying energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (or ATP).
Nucleus – The nucleus is a soft sac of the cell that has the responsibility of carrying its genetic code (also known as DNA).
Nucleolus – Within the nucleus is another nucleolus and nucleus, where RNA is formed. This plays the role of carrying instructions that the DNA provide.
Ribosomes – After RNA leaves the nucleolus and nucleus, it goes through the endoplasmic reticulum to the ribosomes, where protein synthesis takes place.
These cells form the part of the building blocks of life. Biologist have spent years studying what makes cells and their complex structures, which provide clues in to animal and human evolution as well as medical progress.
What’s the Difference Between an Animal and Plant Cell?
Of these, the most significant is that plant cells have other functions and organelles not found in animal cells. For instance, the plant cell has chloroplast and a cell wall, which allows plants to produce energy from light, more commonly known as photosynthesis. It is the sun where plants derive their energy from, as anyone with household plants will tell you – their placement near daylight makes a huge difference.
This is where animals differ; their energy derives of food, be it other animals, plants or fungi.
As we know, cells have many different functions and jobs to do. For instance, a nerve cell will perform a very different role to that of a cell in your digestive lining, and indeed some animal cells can even swim when required.
Another difference is that animal cells often reproduce, a term called mitosis. There are several phases to this cell division. It starts with Interphase, where the cell prepares itself for the metabolic activity, and finishes with cytokinesis.
Repair and Destruct
And finally, cells have the amazing ability to self-repair. This is found in DNA abnormalities, as the body tries to stabilize. If this isn’t achieved then they self-destruct in an intriguing process called apoptosis.