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To group all invertebrates together is an immodest proposal, since the definition of "invertebrate" is any animal without a spinal column — no less than 97 percent of all animal species on Earth. Invertebrates range from spiders and scorpions to centipedes and millipedes, crustaceans, insects, horseshoe crabs, worms, leeches, earthworms, marine bristle worms, mussels and clams, snails, squid and octopi, sea anemones and corals, among others. The vast diversity encompassed by the term invertebrates says less about the species than it does about our typical, very unscientific habit of giving the term equal footing with the much more narrowly representative “birds” or “mammals.”

It is not known precisely how many invertebrate species exist on Earth or how many of them are at risk of extinction, though the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s 2010 Red List puts the global total at about 1.3 million species and the percentage at risk of extinction at about 30 percent of species evaluated.

Alaska corals
American burying beetle
Andrew's dune scarab beetle
Bay checkerspot butterfly
Bartram's scrub-hairstreak butterfly
Black abalone
Casey's June beetle
Comal Springs dryopid beetle
Comal Springs riffle beetle
Coral Conservation 
Elkhorn coral
Florida leafwing butterfly
Giant Palouse earthworm
Great Basin springsnails
Hawaiian picture-wing flies
Hay's spring amphipod
Hermes copper butterfly
Hine's emerald dragonfly
Ichetucknee siltsnail
Island marble butterfly
Miami blue butterfly
Monarch butterfly
Oceanic Hawaiian damselfly
Ohlone tiger beetle
Pacific Northwest mollusks
Peck's cave amphipod
Pinto abalone
Quino checkerspot butterfly
Riverside fairy shrimp
Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly
Salt Creek tiger beetle
Sand Mountain blue butterfly
Smith's blue butterfly
Staghorn coral
Thorne's hairstreak butterfly
White abalone

:Photo © Peter Bryant