What’s an Exoskeleton?

The world of Arthropods is such an amazing world.  With so many species and odd looking creatures it is interesting to think about what holds up their little bodies. Arthropods and other organisms need support on the outside of their bodies because they do not have bones or cartilage supporting their shape. So, instead they have a rigid, hard, outside shell called the exoskeleton. This style skeleton is hard and has flexible joints that help the animal to move. This exoskeleton doesn’t grow the same way bone does, so when the animal gets too big for their exoskeleton, they bust out of it by molting. After the molting process happens the exoskeleton is soft and needs to be exposed to air to help the hardening process. Certain organisms can even puff themselves up to make the new exoskeleton bigger. We actually see animals that have exoskeletons on a daily basis, like cockroaches, flies, and other bugs, but there are lots of animals you didn’t think had exoskeletons that actually do, like the Nautilus and Chitons.

If you want to learn more about animals that have exoskeletons be sure to head to the Arthropod center of the Kids’ Zone. After that you can head to the Bone vs Cartilage area to learn about all the uses of bones and cartilage.

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