Animal Cell – Definition, Structure, Functions

Introduction to Animal Cell

As we all know, the cell is certainly the smallest unit of life. Furthermore, experts often refer to them as the “building blocks of life.” Whether we are talking about the animal cell or the plant cell, their numbers certainly differ depending on the species.

Moreover, talking about the animal cell, they fall under the category of eukaryotic cells, which means that this kind of cells has a membrane-bound nucleus and organelles. Below is a diagram of a generalized animal cell.

animal cell


Structure Of a Generalized Animal Cell

The basic structure of a generalized animal cell certainly comprises of the plasma membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus, mitochondria and ribosomes.

Plasma Membrane- The plasma membrane is responsible for regulating and controlling what moves in and out of a cell.

Nucleus- A nucleus consists of a nuclear envelope, chromatin, and a nucleolus. Moreover, inside the nucleus envelope, the majority of the nucleus is filled with chromatin which contains the majority of the cell’s DNA and condenses down to chromosomes as a cell divides.

Cytoplasm- It is the private area of an animal cell that is not occupied by an organelle or nucleus. Also, cytoplasm consists of the cytosol and allows organelles and cellular substances to move around the cell as needed.

Endoplasmic Reticulum- It comprises of a network of membranes found within all eukaryotic cells. The layers in it are connected to the membrane of the cell’s nucleus and are essential for processes like protein production and the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates.

Mitochondria- Mitochondria are one the most prominent cell organelles of all. In mitochondria, oxygen is used, and carbon dioxide is produced as a byproduct of respiration.

Golgi Apparatus- It also consists of many membranes, but their attachment is not to the nucleus. Furthermore, it serves in modifying proteins and lipids and transporting cellular substances out of the cell.

Ribosomes- Ribosomes help in the process of creating proteins. Furthermore, their attachment is either to the endoplasmic reticulum or they float freely in the cell’s cytoplasm.

Functions Of An Animal Cell

The organization of cells of most animals is into higher levels of structure, including tissues, organs and organ systems. Moreover, some significant functions of animal cells include obtaining food and oxygen, keeping internal conditions stable, moving and reproducing.

Furthermore, animal cells are highly specialised to carry out specific tasks. Also, each cell type has the organelles suited to its particular task.

Some examples of this may include the cardiac muscles of the heart that beat in unison or the digestive tract cells that have cilia which are finger-like projections that increase surface area for nutrients absorption.

There are four primary functions which are certainly common to all cells:-

Growth: Animal cells carry the primary function of physical growth in animals.

Respiration: Animal cells help in breaking down or oxidizing food substances to release energy for other vital life processes.

Metabolism: Animal cells help in converting food into energy, thereby promoting the performance of various regular activities. Experts call this process as metabolism.

Reproduction: Cellular reproduction in animals certainly enables their body to replace dying, diseased or damaged cells and in cases of pregnancy to perpetuate the specific species. Moreover, using the reproductive process, the cells produce an exact copy of its genetic material before splitting into two genetically identical cells. Most noteworthy, this process is mitosis.

Solved Question for You

Question: Which part of a cell allows the cellular substances of the cell to move inside as needed?

a. Mitochondria

b. Ribosomes

c. Cytoplasm

d. Golgi apparatus.

Answer: The correct answer is option c. Cytoplasm.

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