Animal Cell

We are aware of the fact that the cell is the structural and fundamental unit of life. It is also the smallest and the most basic biological unit of living organisms. On the basis of the cellular organization, cells are further classified as eukaryotic and prokaryotic. Plant cells and animal cells fall under the eukaryotic category.

Table of Contents

Let us have a detailed overview of the animal cell, its types, diagram and structure.

Animal Cell Definition

“An animal cell is a type of eukaryotic cell that lacks a cell wall and has a true, membrane-bound nucleus along with other cellular organelles.”


Animal cells range in size from a few microscopic microns to a few millimetres. The largest known animal cell is the ostrich egg, which can stretch over 5.1 inches across and weighs about 1.4 kilograms.  This is in stark contrast to the neuron in the human body, which is just 100 microns across.

The shape of animal cells also varies, with some being flat, others oval or rod-shaped. There are also more intriguing shapes such as curved, spherical, concave and rectangular. Most of the cells are microscopic in size and can only be seen under the microscope. 

As stated before, animal cells are eukaryotic cells with a membrane-bound nucleus. Furthermore, these cells exhibit the presence of DNA inside the nucleus. They also comprise other membrane-bound organelles and cellular structures which carry out specific functions necessary for a cell to function properly.

Animal Cell Diagram

The diagram given below depicts the structural organization of the animal cell. The various cell organelles present in an animal cell are clearly marked in the animal cell diagram provided below.

Animal Cell Structure

Animal cell diagram detailing the various organelles

Though this animal cell diagram is not representative of any one particular type of cell, it provides insight into the primary organelles and the intricate internal structure of most animal cells. Furthermore, it is easy to distinguish between a plant and animal cell diagram just by inspecting the presence or absence of a cell wall.

Animal Cell Structure

Animal cells are generally smaller than plant cells.  Another defining characteristic is its irregular shape. This is due to the absence of a cell wall. But animal cells share other cellular organelles with plant cells as both have evolved from eukaryotic cells.

A typical animal cell comprises the following cell organelles:

Cell Membrane

A thin semipermeable membrane layer of lipids and proteins surrounding the cell. Its primary role is to protect the cell from its surrounding. Also, it controls the entry and exit of nutrients and other microscopic entities into the cell. For this reason, cell membranes are known as semi-permeable or selectively permeable membranes.


It is an organelle that contains several other sub-organelles such as nucleolus, nucleosomes and chromatins. It also contains DNA and other genetic materials.

Nuclear Membrane

It is a double-membrane structure that surrounds the nucleus. It is also referred to as the nuclear envelope.


It is a small organelle found near the nucleus, which has a thick centre with radiating tubules. The centrosomes are where microtubules are produced.


They are round organelles surrounded by a membrane and comprising digestive enzymes which help in digestion, excretion and in the cell renewal process.


A jelly-like material which contains all the cell organelles, enclosed within the cell membrane. The substance found within the cell nucleus, contained by the nuclear membrane is called the nucleoplasm.

Golgi Apparatus

A flat, smooth layered, sac-like organelle which is located near the nucleus and involved in manufacturing, storing, packing and transporting the particles throughout the cell.

Detailed Reading: Golgi Apparatus


They are spherical or rod-shaped organelles with a double membrane. They are the powerhouse of a cell as they play an important role in releasing energy.


They are small organelles made up of RNA-rich cytoplasmic granules, and they are the sites of protein synthesis.

Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER)

This cellular organelle is composed of a thin, winding network of membranous sacs originating from the nucleus.


A membrane-bound organelle present inside a cell involved in maintaining shape and storing water, food, wastes, etc.


They are tiny holes present in the nuclear membrane which are involved in the movement of nucleic acids and proteins across the nuclear membrane.

Animal Cell Types

There are numerous types of animal cells, each designed to serve specific functions. The most common types of animal cells are:

Skin Cells

Melanocytes, keratinocytes,  Merkel cells and Langerhans cells

Muscle Cells

Myocyte, Myosatellite cells, Tendon cells, Cardiac muscle cells

Blood Cells

Leukocytes, erythrocytes, platelet

Nerve Cells

Schwann cell, glial cells etc

Fat Cells


Points to Note About Animal Cell

The cell is the structural and functional unit of life. These cells differ in their shapes, sizes and their structure as they have to fulfil specific functions. Plant cells and animal cells share some common features as both are eukaryotic cells.

However, they differ as animals need to adapt to a more active and non-sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, animals need to acquire their own food, therefore, they do not possess any of the specialized cell organelles such as chloroplasts.

Animal Cell is a fundamental topic taught in class 9 and higher. To find more information about the animal cell structure, its types, functions cell diagrams or other related topics, please explore BYJU’S Biology.

Further Reading:

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an animal cell?

As the name implies, an animal cell is a type of cell that is seen specifically in animal tissues. It is characterized by the absence of a cell wall, with cell organelles enclosed within the cell membrane.


Name the cell organelle that contains the genetic material of the cell.



Which cell organelle is responsible for the generation of energy for cellular activities?



Name the double-layered membrane responsible for enveloping the nucleus.

Nuclear envelope


What is the role of lysosomes?

Lysosomes help in digestion, excretion and cell renewal process.


State the various types of animal cells.

  • Skin Cells
  • Muscle Cells
  • Blood Cells
  • Nerve cells
  • Fat Cells

Explain how an animal cell varies from a plant cell.

An animal cell is usually irregular and round in shape. This is primarily due to the absence of the cell wall, which is a characteristic feature of plant cells. Furthermore, animal cells do not have plastids as animals are not autotrophs.


Name the selectively permeable structure that envelopes the entire cell.

Cell membrane


Which cell organelle is responsible for packing?

Golgi apparatus


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  1. I love the platform very organised
    Detailed notes plus guided questions and answers.

  2. Who discovered the cell

  3. What kinds of homones will increase the anger of an animal

  4. Robert Hooke discovered the cell in between 1635 – 1703

  5. I like it because it is so detailed simple to understand and well explained

  6. Great I think I have fallen love with the byjus , After seeing this detailed notes of animal cells.

  7. Are the cells of grooved brain corals (diploria labyrinthiformis) any different from normal animal cells?

    • Grooved brain corals are marine invertebrates, hence, they share common characteristic features with animal cells. However, these organisms have symbiotic algae living within their cells, providing energy from photosynthesis.

  8. Interesting facts

  9. Why spontaneous generation was previously considered as a plausible explanation on how life can originate from an organic matter?

  10. How spontaneous generation was disproved?

  11. How do environmental toxins like lead and mercury affect the functions of the cell?

    • Many toxins work by hindering specific functions of the cell. For instance, cyanide disrupts the mitochondrial electron transport chain within cells – rendering the body unable to derive energy.

  12. How did eukaryotes evolve?

  13. What is the significance of compartmentalization in eukaryotic cells?

  14. Are all prokaryotic unicellular? Can they be multicellular?

    • Prokaryotic organisms are always unicellular. However, there is evidence that some prokaryotic organisms such as cyanobacteria form large “colonies”. Regardless, they are not classified as multicellular.

  15. Guys can please tell me whats the function of dna in animal cells?

  16. Hahaha this animal cell discovered by theodor schwann and i think animal cells are related in the abiogenesis theory because cells are come from all living things

  17. In 8-10 sentences, differentiate the sebaceous from sweat glands in terms of structure, distribution, function, and secretion.

  18. If the organisation of a cell is destroyed due to some physical or chemical influence, what will happen?

    • Cells dying in large numbers are never good for the body. For example, if a pathogen enters the body and starts producing toxins that destroy the red blood cells, then the number of RBCs to transport oxygen decreases. This can then hamper other vital functions of the body.

  19. What about the nucleolus?

  20. Why cell basic unit of life
    and can’t be seen by nake eye why so

    • Cells are the basic unit of life because all living organisms are made up of cells. Cells are the structural and functional unit of life. Most plants and animals cells are very small in size, around 1-100 µm, hence, cannot be seen with the naked eye.

  21. Is there a vacuole in the animal cell

  22. Can the paramecium be regarded as a plant

  23. Who was the scientist who gave energy the name ATP : Adenosine Tri Phosphate

  24. what are the functions of the animal cell,
    its urgent please help

  25. Functions of animal cell.