This section contains information, facts, and worksheets on the dazzling array of mammals found everywhere on Earth, from the tropical rainforests of the Amazon, the frozen waters of Antarctica to scorching deserts and high-altitude mountains.
There is a dazzling array of mammals found everywhere on Earth, from the tropical rainforests of the Amazon, the frozen waters of Antarctica to scorching deserts and high-altitude mountains. The reasons for this are the unique features that distinguish them from other animal groups. Let’s take a closer look.
Mammals are vertebrates, meaning they have a backbone, which distinguishes them from invertebrates like insects and mollusks. Next up, they are warm-blooded, which allows them to maintain their own body temperature, unlike cold-blooded reptiles and amphibians. Mammals give birth to live young that they nourish with milk, this is what distinguishes them from birds as although they have a backbone and are warm-blooded, birds lay eggs. But do you know what mammal can fly? Bats!
Mammals are different from other groups of animals because they and they almost always have hair. But what about whales and dolphins, you ask? You’d be right to observe that they don’t have hair, but did you know that in the fetal form they do? This is one of the remarkable things about mammals – if you search the Internet to see what many animals look like when they’re growing in their mother’s womb, it’s very hard to tell which is a human, a cow, a dog, even a whale!
Mammals come in all shapes and sizes, from the very largest mammals – the blue whale and the African Elephant, the fastest land animal – the cheetah, the tallest – the giraffe, to the smallest mammal – the Etruscan shrew, and the slowest – the sloth. Mammals can swing, like bonobos, monkeys, lemurs and apes; they can run, like lions, antelope, dogs and people; they can swim, like seals and walrus; they can hop, like kangaroos and rabbits; and a very special few can fly and glide, like bats, flying foxes and sugar gliders.
The diet of mammals is varied too: Mammals can be carnivores, that eat meat, herbivores, that eat plants, omnivores that eat both meat and plants, and insectivores, that eat insects.
Using this broad description, how many mammals can you think of? And knowing what you know about mammals, think about the strange creature that is the duck-billed platypus, who for a long time was believed to be a hoax it was simply so strange!
Learn all about the remarkable world of mammals and your favorite animals in this category!