The Kingdom Animalia (=Metazoa) is one of a handful of lineages rooted far back in the branching tree representing the history of life on Earth. This lineage that is composed of those organisms we know as "animals" represents one of the three major origins of multicellularity (the other two large and diverse groups of multicellular organisms are the fungi and the green plants).
It is difficult to list characteristics that apply to all animals, since various branches of the animal tree have undergone a range of significant modifications. However, most animals obtain energy from other organisms, feeding on them as predators (killing and eating a prey item), parasites (feeding on their "prey" without killing it, at least not immediately), or detritivores (ingesting tiny bits of decomposing organic material such as fallen leaves). In contrast to animals, most plants make their own food, through the extraordinary process of photosynthesis, using energy captured from the sun; most fungi break down decaying organic material (without ingesting it) into its chemical constituents and absorb released nutrients. Animal cells lack a rigid cell wall (some form of which is typical of plants and most fungi) and their cell biology and physiology differ in a variety of other ways from other organisms.
The diversity of animals is impressive. Zhang (2011) recently coordinated an effort to outline a classification scheme for all known animals and to estimate species richness (i.e., number of species) in different parts of the animal tree. Work on an updated version was begun immediately to fill in information gaps, but results from the 2011 publication are enlightening. More than 1.5 million animal species have been described (and many more continue to be discovered and formally described each year). The phylum beetles</>: nearly 400,000 different species of beetles have already been described. Among the known species of insects are also nearly 120,000 Pseudoscorpiones, and more than 1500 freely available online.