Mammals (Class Mammalia)

 

Activity:

Mammal Mimics (age 5 and up)

Ask for permission to look through old magazines and cut out pictures of mammals.  Place all the pictures in a bowl or a hat.  Ask your friends and family to play, too.  Take turns choosing one picture from the bowl but don't let anyone see which mammal you've chosen.  Help the other players guess your mammal by pretending to be that animal.  You can make noises, but no words, please!

 

 

There have been mammals living on this planet for 200 million years.  The greatest diversity or different kinds of mammal species (kinds) existed about 15 million years ago.  Today, there are about 4,000 different species of mammals.  Nearly half of all these species are rodents.

The largest animals alive, such as the elephant and whales are mammals.  In fact, the blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth.  There also are very small mammals—shrews are only one example.

All mammals are vertebrate animals, which means they have a backbone.  Mammals are the only animals that have hair.  All mammals breathe air, even whales and dolphins.  They are warm-blooded—that is, the temperature inside their bodies stay the same, more or less, even when it is quite warm or very cold outside.

Another thing that sets mammals apart from other animals is their mammary glands, which produce milk.  All young mammals feed on their mothers' milk until they can find and eat food by themselves.

Fast Facts: 

  Mammal Diversity

Mammals are divided up into groups of related animals, called Orders.  Below you'll find the name of the most common orders and some examples.

 

Photo

Order

Examples

   

Monotremata (MON-o-TRE-mah-tah)
(Monotremes)

duck-billed platypus

  

Marsupialia (mar-SOO-pee-AH-le-ah)
(Marsupials)

opossums, kangaroos

  

Insectivora (in-sek-TIV-or-ah)
(Insectivores)

hedgehogs, moles, shrews

  

Chiroptera (ki-ROP-ter-ah)
(Chiropterans)

bats

  

Primates (pri-MA-tez)

lemurs, marmosets, apes

  

Edentata (E-den-TAH-tah)
(Edentates)

anteaters, sloths, armadillos

  

Lagamorpha (LAG-o-MOR-fah)
(Lagomorphs)

rabbits, hares, pikas

 

 

Rodentia (ro-DEN-che-ah)
(Rodents)

mice, voles, rats, hampsters, squirrels, prairie dogs, beaver, porcupines

  

Cetacea (se-TA-she-ah)
(Cetaceans)

whales, porpoises, dolphins

 

Carnivora (kar-NIV-o-rah)
(Carnivores)

wolves, bears, seals, racoons, skunks, otters, cats

   

Proboscidea (PRO-bah-SID-e-ah)
(Proboscidians)

elephant

  

Sirenia (si-RE-ne-ah)
(Sirenians)

manatees

  

 

Perissodactyla (per-RIS-so-DAK-ti-lah)
(Perissodactyls)

odd-toed ungulates, including horses, zebras, tapirs, rhinoceroses

  

 

Artiodactyla (AR-te-o-DAK-ti-lah)
(Artiodactyls)

even-toed ungulates, including hogs, camels, deer, giraffe, pronghorn, cattle, sheep, goats

 

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