Insects have achieved success with "diversity through specialization". Each of the countless species has its own particular individual shape, coloring, behavior and food sources, yet every one has the six legs and two antennae that make it an insect. Over a million species of insects have been formally described, but millions more are still unknown, with the greatest profusion occurring in the tropical rainforests. In these areas where life is so abundant, insects, and indeed other animals, are faced with great competition for their habitat niches. They either become highly specialized, adapting to make use of one specific food source, or they become generalists. The generalists take advantage of many different food sources and habitats, but with less efficiency than the specialists.
all animal species are invertebrates, the group of creatures including insects, arthropods and mollusks. Over 1 million species of insects
have been identified, and about 7000 new species are discovered every year. As many as 30 million species of these animals may exist
only in tropical forests.
On this page: Just three examples of the seemingly limitless variety among insects. Photos by Maya Walters.
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