Animal cells

Animals are made up of cells. These cells are eukaryotic. This means they have a nucleus and other structures which are surrounded by membranes.

Diagram illustrating an animal cell and its componentsA generalised animal cell and its components

Mitochondria (singular: mitochondrion) are visible with a light microscope but can't be seen in detail. Ribosomes are only visible with an electron microscope. Preparing cheek cell slides to view using a light microscope is described in page 6 of this guide.

Cell structureHow it is related to its function.
CytoplasmA jelly-like material that contains dissolved nutrients and salts and structures called organelles. It is where many of the chemical reactions happen.
NucleusContains genetic material, including DNA, which controls the cell's activities.
Cell membraneIt is permeable to some substances but not to others and so controls the movement of substances in and out of the cell.
MitochondriaOrganelles that contains the enzymes for respiration, and where most energy is released in respiration.
RibosomesTiny structures where protein synthesis occurs.

Most cells are specialised and are adapted for their function. Animals and plants therefore consist of many different types of cell working together.