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Mammals and their Characteristics

Mammals and their Characteristics

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Mammals and their Characteristics

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  1. Mammals and their Characteristics

  2. What do mammals have in common? How are they different? Look at the photos below and think about those questions. Photo Researchers, Inc./Tom McHugh Stock photography by Ross Warner at Alamy All other photos taken from

  3. All mammals have similar characteristics. Can you name some? Check out this list! • They are vertebrates. • Their lower jaw is made of a single bone attached to the skull. • Females have mammary glands to nurse their young. • Most give live births. • They have three specialized ear bones (hammer, anvil, stirrup). • They are warm-blooded (or endothermic). • They lose their baby teeth (diphyodont). • They have four chambered hearts.

  4. Let’s practice our observation skills. • In the next slides you will be viewing six different mammals. • Look at each one carefully and listen to the description while it is read. • Observe the physical features of the animals. • Notice the characteristics they all have in common. • Watch for features that are unique to each mammal.

  5. This animal has a very long neck. • The Giraffe is the tallest animal in the world. Males may be 16-18 feet tall and weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Females are usually lighter and about two feet shorter. The giraffe's front legs are only slightly longer than the back ones, the height of the fore part of the body being largely due to the heavy muscular development of the base of the neck. • The long neck has the usual seven vertebrae of most mammals, although each is greatly elongated. The giraffe's soup-plate-sized hooves are used as offensive weapons, usually in the defense of the calves. The powerful kick from the front feet can kill a lion.

  6. Are bats really mammals? Yes! • Mosquito Catchers: Hollywood may have given bats a bad name, but the zigzag path of a bat against the night sky can mean only one thing, thousands of mosquitoes are about to meet their maker. • Fruit and Blood Eaters: Some species of bats also eat fruit and use their tongues to sip nectar. Carnivorous bats put lizards and frogs on the menu. The infamous vampire bat uses its sharp teeth to pierce the skin of animals for the liquid nourishment of blood. • Flapping Wings: Bats are the only mammal that can take to the sky on flapping wings. • Seeing by Listening: In its nightly search for food, a bat's secret weapon is echolocation. Focusing on a tasty morsel, a clicking sound is emitted through its mouth or nose. The time it takes for the sound to return to the bat's highly receptive ears reveals the size and location of the object. •

  7. This mammal can’t decide what it is. Is it a horse, a zebra, an antelope? It’s an okapi! [oh-kah-pee] • The okapi is a native of Africa and is most closely related to the giraffe. • Like the giraffe, it is also long-necked and long in limb. • It has a soft, velvety, chestnut-brown coat, with a purplish tint. It's dark coat absorbs heat, so it avoids bright sunlight and prefers very shady areas. • The upper parts of its legs and rump are marked with white and black transverse stripes. It has a tuft of hair at the end of its brown tail. • Males and females are similar in size, reaching about 5 feet 3 inches (1.6m) around the shoulder. • Only males develop a skin-covered horn. Females just have small knobs, (or hair whorls) called ossicones instead.

  8. Here is a unique and interesting mammal that doesn’t like to follow the rules—the duck-billed platypus. • The duck-billed platypus is found only in eastern Australia. It has a bill like a duck, a tail like a beaver, and very unusual feet. • It belongs to a small and unique group of egg-laying mammals called monotremes. The females lay 1-3 leathery eggs after the eggs have incubated inside the mother for about 2 weeks. (To compare, bird eggs are in the mother for just 1 day.) • The males have “spurs” near their hind legs from which they can shoot venom that is not deadly to humans, but is very painful. • The duck-billed platypus lives in streams, rivers, and occasionally lakes. It feeds on bottom-dwelling aquatic insect larvae, which it finds by probing the streambed with its pliable, sensitive bill.

  9. Who is this adorable mammal? • The average manatee is 10 feet long weighing 800-1200 pounds. When born they are 3-4 feet long and 60-70 pounds. • Manatees are herbivores meaning plant eating animals. They spend 6-8 hours a day feeding. • Something interesting is that they replace worn teeth throughout their lifetime. • Manatees have fairly good vision and can distinguish between colors. • Manatees cannot survive in water temperatures below 68 degrees (20 Celsius). They can stay submerged up to 20 minutes and usually surface for air every 3-5 minutes. •

  10. There might be something hiding in his pocket! • Wombats are animals that dig large burrow systems using their teeth and claws. They defend their burrows and can be very aggressive towards intruders. • Females give birth to just one baby at a time. The baby stays in the mother’s pouch for up to 6 or 7 months. • The pouch on a wombat faces back-wards; that way the excavated dirt doesn’t go into it and cover the young one. • Wombats are herbivores—they eat mostly grasses, bark, and roots. • Most adult wombats are about the size of a medium-large dog – 45 – 75 pounds.

  11. Let’s look at these mammals again. • How are these mammals similar? • What makes each of these mammals unique from other mammals? The Duck-billed platypus The Okapi The Giraffe The Manatee The Bat The Wombat