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MAMMALS

All mammals are endothermic (warm-blooded), have some fur or hair on their body, and feed their young milk. They have a bony skeleton with a backbone, and their lower jaw, made of one bone, hinges directly onto the skull. Mammals breathe using lungs. A few mammals lay eggs, and some carry their young in pouches, but most have a placenta and give birth to live young. Mammals are found all over the world, on land, in the air, and in water.

BROWN BEAR

The brown bear is an omnivore, eating plants and animals. It walks on all fours, with its heel on the ground. It is a placental mammal, which means that the young are able to develop and grow inside the female’s body. The cubs look like tiny adults when born, but are helpless and stay with their mother for at least two years.

BAT

Bats are the only mammals that fly. A bird’s wing is made up of the whole of the forelimb, but in bats the flight membrane stretches between its very long fingers. Most bats feed at night and rest, often in large groups, during the day.

CLASS: MAMMALIA

There are about 4,500 species of mammal in a total of 21 orders, of which the following are a selection.

Class: Monotremata

(duck-billed platypus, echidna)

Features: lay eggs, short legs, small head, tiny eyes

Class: Diprotodonta

(pouched mammals)

Features: young born at early stage and cared for in pouch

Class: Perissodactyla

(odd-toed, hoofed mammals)

Features: leg’s weight on central toe

Class: Carnivora

(flesh-eating mammals)

Features: carnassial (sharp, cheek) teeth for cutting flesh

Class: Cetacea

(whales, dolphins, porpoises)

Features: move tail up and down to swim

Class: Primates

(lemurs, apes, monkeys, humans)

Features: large brain, forward-facing eyes

Class: Rodentia

(rodents)

Features: incisor teeth grow continuously, most have good sense of smell and hearing

DIVING PLATYPUS

The duck-billed platypus closes its eyes, ears, and nose when diving and finds its way using sense receptors around its bill. The platypus lays eggs. It does not have nipples, so when the young hatch, they suck milk from the fur around the openings of the milk glands. It lives by rivers in Australia and Tasmania.

LEAPING DOLPHIN

Dolphins, like whales, spend their entire life in the water, but must still surface to breathe air through their lungs. Their fat reserves, called blubber, keep them warm in cold seas.

FIND OUT MORE

Growing Up
Reproduction

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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