The fundamental unit of life for every living organism is cells. Similar to plants and humans, animals have cells too. A cell present inside an animal is called an animal cell. Animal cells are eukaryotic cells that signal the presence of a membrane-bound nucleus. To learn how important an animal cell is, the structure of an animal cell, and how an animal cell looks like, let us read on. 

Definition of Animal Cell

Animal cells are eukaryotic cells that constitute the fundamental structural and functional unit inside an animal. A plasma membrane surrounds an animal cell. Inside an animal cell, tiny cellular structures, membrane-bound nucleus, and organelles are present, all of which perform specific functions in cellular organization. 

What is Animal Cell?

In layman’s terms, an animal cell can be described as the cells present inside an animal. Cells of an animal go into creating animal tissues and organs that sustain its life. Animal cells contain a membrane-bound nucleus. A nucleus and organelles and a cell membrane make an animal cell – a eukaryotic cell. 

Plants cells and animal cells are both eukaryotic cells. The presence of a cell wall along with chloroplasts and plastids differentiate a plant cell from an animal cell. The concept of an animal cell can be better understood with the help of a diagram along with a brief explanation of the structure. 

Animal Cell Diagram 

An animal cell diagram helps in understanding the structure and nature of an animal cell. The location of different components and organelles are labeled neatly.  The animal cell diagram also helps us understand how different elements such as organelles and cellular structures interact. 

Below, you will find essential information regarding the structure of an animal cell along with a labeled diagram, which will help you better grasp the animal cell concept. 

Animal cell

Structure of Animal Cell

The structure of an animal cell consists of several components that enable it to work and function efficiently. Different organelles (cellular structures) constitute an animal cell and perform specific functions.  The animal cell diagram that we see above helps us locate the position of these components. 

An animal cell structure generally remains the same, as do the parts of it. To understand the structure of the animal cell better, we have to study the functions 

of the parts. 

Cell Membrane: The cell membrane envelopes and protects the cytoplasm of an animal cell. The cell membrane regulates the entry and exit of certain molecules and secures the shape and solidity of the animal cell. 

Cytoplasm: Location of different organelles inside a cell. The nature of the cytoplasm is jelly-like, and the cell membrane surrounds it. The cytoplasm joins the cell membrane and nucleus of a cell. It also maintains the shape and consistency of the animal cell. The cytoplasm is divided into two parts in a eukaryotic cell; endoplasm and ectoplasm. 

Organelles such as mitochondria, ribosomes, lysosomes, vesicles, etc., can be found inside the cell’s cytoplasm.

Cytosol: Cytosol is the thick semi-fluid liquid that is present inside a cytoplasm. Waters and ions go into the creation of cytosol. The primary function of the cytosol is to store organelles surrendered safely inside the cytoplasm so they can carry on with their specific functions. 

Cytoskeleton: The internal framework of a eukaryotic animal cell that consists of: 

  1.  microtubules 
  2.  intermediate filaments 
  3.  actin filaments

The network of these parts of the cytoskeleton runs through the cytoplasm. The primary function of the cytoskeleton is to maintain the cell shape, movement, and organization. 

Vesicles: Vesicles perform one of the most integral functions in an animal cell. It transports molecules between different organelles inside a cell and permeates smooth functioning. 

Nucleus: The nucleus in an animal cell houses the DNA (hereditary information) of an animal. The nuclear membrane separates the nucleus from other organelles inside the cytoplasm. 

Endoplasmic Reticulum: A extensively interconnected network of sacs or tubules composing a membrane present inside the cytoplasm. The regions of the Endoplasmic Reticulum can be divided into two; 

I. Rough ER – A region where ribosomes are present

II. Smooth ER – A region where ribosomes are absent

Ribosomes: Location of protein synthesis. The cytoplasm houses the ribosomes. Ribosomes can also be found attached to the endoplasmic reticulum’s membrane. 

Lysosome: Location of intracellular digestion. Lysosomes are formed as a result of the Golgi Apparatus packaging. 

Mitochondria: Location of production of energy inside the cell in the form of ATP. The mitochondria, also known as the powerhouse of the cell, are cylindrical in shape. The production of energy inside mitochondria occurs due to aerobic respiration, which ultimately leads to energy synthesis. 

Golgi Apparatus: The Golgi Apparatus is primarily responsible for the packaging and secretion of proteins. It packages them into vesicles after receiving the protein from the endoplasmic reticulum. 

Apart from the mentioned above elements – organelles and cellular structures, there are other components that the structure of a cell consists of, such as Peroxisomes, Centrosomes, etc. 

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