In zoology a skeleton is any fairly rigid structure of an animal, irrespective of whether it has joints and irrespective of whether it is biomineralized. The mesohyl functions as an endoskeleton in most sponges, and is the only skeleton in soft sponges that encrust hard surfaces such as rocks. More commonly the mesohyl is stiffened by mineral spicules, by spongin fibers or both. Spicules may be made of silica or calcium carbonate, and vary in shape from simple rods to three-dimensional "stars" with up to six rays. Spicules are produced by sclerocyte cells,[3] and may be separate, connected by joints, or fused.[2] Some sponges also secrete exoskeletons that lie completely outside their organic components. For example sclerosponges ("hard sponges") have massive calcium carbonate exoskeletons over which the organic matter forms a thin layer with choanocyte chambers in pits in the mineral. These exoskeletons are secreted by the pinacocytes that form the animals' skins An endoskeleton is an internal support structure of an animal, composed of mineralized tissue. Endoskeleton develops within the skin or in the deeper body tissues. The vertebrate is basically an endoskeleton made up of two types of tissues (bone and cartilage). During early embryonic development the endoskeleton is composed of notochord and cartilage. The notochord in most vertebrates is replaced by vertebral column and cartilage is replaced by bone in most adults.In three phyla and one subclass of animals, endoskeletons of various complexity are found: Chordata, Echinodermata, Porifera, and Coleoidea. An endoskeleton may function purely for support (as in the case of sponges), but often serves as an attachment site for muscle and a mechanism for transmitting muscular forces. A true endoskeleton is derived from mesodermal tissue. Such a skeleton is present in echinoderms and chordates. The poriferan 'skeleton' consists of microscopic calcareous or siliceous spicules or a spongin network. The Coleoidae do not have a true endoskeleton in the evolutionary sense; here, a mollusk exoskeleton evolved into several sorts of internal structure, the "cuttlebone" of cuttlefish being the best-known version. Yet they do have cartilaginous tissue in their body, even if it is not mineralized, especially in the head, where it forms a primitive cranium.The endoskeleton gives shape,support and protection to the body and provides a means of locomotion.

The composition of each class is determined by a taxonomist. Often there is no exact agreement, with different taxonomists taking different positions. There are no hard rules that a taxonomist needs to follow in describing a class, but for well-known animals there is likely to be consensus. For example, dogs are usually assigned to the phylum Chordata (animals with notochords); in the class Mammalia; in the order Carnivora.