Question Video: Identifying an Organism from Its Given Features Science

What am I? I have 6 jointed legs. I have two pairs of wings. I collect nectar from flowers.


Video Transcript

What am I? I have six jointed legs. I have two pairs of wings. I collect nectar from flowers. (A) Housefly, (B) spider, (C) ant, (D) scorpion, or (E) bee.

This question is asking you to identify an animal from some of its structures, which involves the process of classification. So, let’s review some key facts we need to know about the classification of animals so we can come up with the correct answer.

Classification is the arrangement of organisms into taxonomic groups according to their observed similarities. We start with large groups of organisms and break these down into smaller and smaller groups of organisms, which have more and more similar features. If we look at the animal kingdom, it can be split into vertebrates and invertebrates. Vertebrates have a backbone, and invertebrates do not.

Looking at the question, all the answer options are organisms without backbones. So, we will now look at the invertebrates more closely. Although invertebrates do not have an internal skeleton, also known as an endoskeleton, many of them have a rigid external covering, called an exoskeleton. If we look at the first parts of these names, endo- means “inside,” and exo- means “outside.” Both endo- and exoskeletons provide structural support and protection to the internal organs and tissues of the animal.

The invertebrates can then be split down into smaller groups, one of which is the arthropods. An arthropod is an invertebrate animal with an exoskeleton, segmented body, and jointed appendages. Appendages are parts that stick out, such as legs and antennae. Arthropods can be further divided into subgroups, largely according to the number of legs they have. These subgroups include the arachnids, myriapods, and insects. So, let’s look at the differences between them.

Arachnids are a group that includes spiders and scorpions. They have a body made up of two segments: the front one called the cephalothorax and the rear one, the abdomen. They have eight legs attached to the cephalothorax, but no wings. If we look at the question, it is asking for an organism with six legs. Spiders and scorpions are arachnids with four pairs of legs. Therefore, we can rule out options (B) and (D) from our possible answers.

So, what about myriapods? These have a body made up of many segments, and they have a pair of legs attached to nearly all of them, meaning they have lots of pairs of legs. The name “myriapod” comes from the Latin for “many feet.” Some examples of myriapods are centipedes and millipedes, which have varying numbers of legs, from 30 to 750!

Lastly, we come to the insects. Insects have three clear segments to their body, called the head, thorax, and abdomen. Attached to the thorax, they have three pairs of jointed legs and often one or two pairs of wings. Examples include bees, ants, and houseflies, all of which are mentioned in the answer options. We therefore cannot eliminate any of these options on leg number.

So, how about wing number? Houseflies, bees, and some ants have wings. The worker ants do not have wings. It is normally just the males and queen ants that do, and they have two pairs. You tend to only see flying ants during their reproductive season, when they are looking for a mate. Houseflies have one pair of wings. What used to be a second pair has evolved over millions of years to become a pair of small structures called halters, which help the flies balance when they are in the air. This means we can rule out option (A) housefly, as we are looking for an animal with two pairs of wings.

Bees have two sets of wings: the large forewings and the smaller hindwings. When flying, these pairs of wings hook together to form a set of large wings, which is why you may be mistaken that they only have one pair. Both the housefly and bee have a long, tonguelike structure called the proboscis, which acts as a straw to suck up their food. Bees use the proboscis to suck up nectar from flowers, a substance rich in sugars.

Ants have chewing mouthparts, called mandibles, to break their food apart. We can therefore rule out ants from the possible correct answer as they have the wrong mouth parts to collect nectar from flowers.

We now know that the correct answer to our question is option (E). The animal that has six jointed legs, two pairs of wings and collects nectar from flowers is a bee.

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