In zoology, the gut, also known as the alimentary canal or gastrointestinal tract, is a tube by which bilaterian animals (including humans) transfer food to the digestion organs. In large bilaterians, the gut generally also has an exit, the anus, by which the animal disposes of solid wastes. Some small bilaterians have no anus and dispose of solid wastes by other means (for example, through the mouth).
Animals that have guts are classified as either protostomes or deuterostomes, as the gut evolved twice, an example of convergent evolution. They are distinguished based on their embryonic development. Protostomes develop their mouths first, while deuterostomes develop their mouths second. Protostome include arthropods, molluscs, and annelids, while deuterostomes include echinoderms and chordates.
For more specific information on digestive organs, see specialized organs and behaviours.
- Ruppert, E.E., Fox, R.S., and Barnes, R.D. (2004). "Introduction to Eumetazoa". Invertebrate Zoology (7 ed.). Brooks / Cole. pp. 99–103. ISBN 0-03-025982-7.
- Ruppert, E.E., Fox, R.S., and Barnes, R.D. (2004). "Introduction to Bilateria". Invertebrate Zoology (7 ed.). Brooks / Cole. pp. 203–205. ISBN 0-03-025982-7.
- Zimmer (2011). "Bacterial Ecosystems Divide People Into 3 Groups, Scientists Say". The New York Times. p. 17.
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