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| Clockwise from the upper left: giraffe, golden crown fruit bat, lion, hedgehog|
Clockwise from the upper left: giraffe, golden crown fruit bat, lion, hedgehog
Mammals (formally Mammalia) are a class of vertebrate animals whose name is derived from their distinctive feature, mammary glands, with which they feed their young. They are also characterized by the possession of sweat glands, hair, three middle ear bones used in hearing, and a neocortex region in the brain.
Except for the three species of monotremes (which lay eggs), all mammals give birth to live young. Most mammals also possess specialized teeth, and the largest group of mammals, the placentals, use a placenta during gestation. The mammalian brain regulates endothermic and circulatory systems, including a four-chambered heart.
There are approximately 5,400 species of mammals, ranging in size from the Template:Convert/–Template:Convert/test/A Bumblebee Bat to the Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSonTemplate:Convert/test/A Blue Whale, distributed in about 1,200 genera, 153 families, and 29 orders, though this varies by classification scheme.
The mammals are divided into two subclasses, the prototheria, which includes the egg-laying monotremes, and the theria, which includes the live-bearing marsupials and placentals. Most mammals, including the six largest orders, belong to the placental group. The three largest orders, in descending order, are Rodentia (mice, rats, and other small, gnawing mammals), Chiroptera (bats), and Soricomorpha (shrews, moles and solenodons). The next three largest orders include the Carnivora (dogs, cats, weasels, bears, seals, and their relatives), the Cetartiodactyla (including the even-toed hoofed mammals and the whales) and the Primates to which the human species belongs. The relative size of these latter three orders differs according to the classification scheme and definitions used by various authors.
Phylogenetically, Mammalia is defined as all descendants of the most recent common ancestor of monotremes (e.g., echidnas and platypuses) and therian mammals (marsupials and placentals). This means that some extinct groups of "mammals" are not members of the crown group Mammalia, even though most of them have all the characteristics that traditionally would have classified them as mammals. These "mammals" are now usually placed in the unranked clade Mammaliaformes.
The mammalian line of descent diverged from the reptile line at the end of the Carboniferous period. The majority of reptiles would evolve into modern-day reptiles and birds, while the synapsid branch led to mammals. The first true mammals appeared in the Jurassic period. Modern mammalian orders appeared in the Palaeocene and Eocene epochs of the Palaeogene period.
However, other features are required when classifying fossils, since soft tissue glands and some other features are not visible in fossils. Paleontologists use a distinguishing feature that is shared by all living mammals (including monotremes), but is not present in any of the early Triassic synapsids: mammals use two bones for hearing that were used for eating by their ancestors. The earliest synapsids had a jaw joint composed of the articular (a small bone at the back of the lower jaw) and the quadrate (a small bone at the back of the upper jaw). Most reptiles and non-mammalian synapsids use this system including lizards, crocodilians, dinosaurs (and their descendants the birds), and therapsids (mammal-like "reptiles"). Mammals have a different jaw joint, however, composed only of the dentary (the lower jaw bone which carries the teeth) and the squamosal (another small skull bone). In mammals the quadrate and articular bones have become the incus and malleus bones in the middle ear. Note: "non-mammalian synapsids" above implies that mammals are a sub-group of synapsids, and that is exactly what cladistics says they are.
Mammals also have a double occipital condyle: they have two knobs at the base of the skull which fit into the topmost neck vertebra, and other vertebrates have a single occipital condyle. Paleontologists use only the jaw joint and middle ear as criteria for identifying fossil mammals, since it would be confusing if they found a fossil that had one feature, but not the other.
Anatomy and morphologyEdit
The majority of mammals have seven cervical vertebrae (bones in the neck); this includes bats, giraffes, whales, and humans. The few exceptions include the manatee and the two-toed sloth, which have only six cervical vertebrae, and the three-toed sloth with nine cervical vertebrae.
The lungs of mammals have a spongy texture and are honeycombed with epithelium having a much larger surface area in total than the outer surface area of the lung itself. The lungs of humans are typical of this type of lung.
Breathing is largely driven by the muscular diaphragm which divides the thorax from the abdominal cavity, forming a dome with its convexity towards the thorax. Contraction of the diaphragm flattens the dome increasing the volume of the cavity in which the lung is enclosed. Air enters through the oral and nasal cavities; it flows through the larynx, trachea and bronchi and expands the alveoli. Relaxation of the diaphragm has the opposite effect, passively recoiling during normal breathing. During exercise, the abdominal wall contracts, increasing visceral pressure on the diaphragm, thus forcing the air out more quickly and forcefully. The rib cage itself also is able to expand and contract the thoracic cavity to some degree, through the action of other respiratory and accessory respiratory muscles. As a result, air is sucked into or expelled out of the lungs, always moving down its pressure gradient. This type of lung is known as a bellows lung as it resembles a blacksmith's bellows.
The mammalian heart has four chambers: the right atrium, right ventricle, left atrium, and left ventricle. Atria are for receiving blood; ventricles are for pumping blood to the lungs and body. The ventricles are larger than the atria and their walls are thick, because muscular walls are needed to forcefully pump the blood from the heart to the body and lungs. Deoxygenated blood from the body enters the right atrium, which pumps it to the right ventricle. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs, where carbon dioxide diffuses out, and oxygen diffuses in. From the lungs, oxygenated blood enters the left atrium, where it is pumped to the left ventricle (the largest and strongest of the 4 chambers), which pumps it out to the rest of the body, including the heart's own blood supply.
All mammalian brains possess a neocortex, a brain region that is unique to mammals.
Mammals have integumentary systems made up of three layers: the outermost epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. This characteristic is not unique to mammals, since it is found in all vertebrates.
The epidermis is typically ten to thirty cells thick; its main function being to provide a waterproof layer. Its outermost cells are constantly lost; its bottommost cells are constantly dividing and pushing upward. The middle layer, the dermis, is fifteen to forty times thicker than the epidermis. The dermis is made up of many components such as bony structures and blood vessels. The hypodermis is made up of adipose tissue. Its job is to store lipids, and to provide cushioning and insulation. The thickness of this layer varies widely from species to species.
Although mammals and other animals have cilia that superficially may resemble it, no other animals except mammals have hair. It is a definitive characteristic of the order. Some mammals have very little, but nonetheless, careful examination reveals the characteristic, often in obscure parts of their bodies. None are known to have hair that naturally is blue or green in color although some cetaceans, along with the mandrills appear to have shades of blue skin. Many mammals are indicated as having blue hair or fur, but in all known cases, it has been found to be a shade of gray. The two-toed sloth and the polar bear may seem to have green fur, but this color is caused by algae growths.
Most mammals give birth to live young (vivipary), but a few, namely the monotremes, lay eggs, and at least one of them, the platypus, presents a particular sex determination system that in some ways resembles that of birds. Oviviparous species which are not mammals such as guppies and snakes also give birth in a manner resembling live birth; thus it is not a distinguishing characteristic of mammals.
Mammals have sweat glands, a defining feature present in no other group. Some of these glands have specialized to produce milk (in what are called mammary glands), a liquid used by newborns as their primary source of nutrition. The monotremes branched from other mammals early on, and do not have the nipples seen in most mammals, but they do have mammary glands.
Nearly all mammals are endothermic ("warm-blooded"). Most mammals also have hair to help keep them warm. Like birds, mammals can forage or hunt in cold weather and climates where reptiles and large insects cannot.
Endothermy requires plenty of food energy, so pound for pound mammals eat more food than reptiles. Small insectivorous mammals eat prodigious amounts for their size.
In intelligent mammals, such as primates, the cerebrum is larger relative to the rest of the brain. Intelligence itself is not easy to define, but indications of intelligence include the ability to learn, matched with behavioral flexibility. Rats, for example, are considered to be highly intelligent as they can learn and perform new tasks, an ability that may be important when they first colonize a fresh habitat. In some mammals, food gathering appears to be related to intelligence: a deer feeding on plants has a brain relatively smaller than a cat, who must think to outwit its prey.
- See also: Animal locomotion
Mammals evolved from four-legged ancestors. They use their limbs to walk, climb, swim, and fly. Some land mammals have toes that produce claws and hooves for climbing and running. Aquatic mammals such as whales and dolphins have fins which evolved from legs.
[[Image:Elephant near ndutu.jpg|thumb|An African Elephant
- See also: Terrestrial locomotion
- See also: Scansorial locomotion
Sloths travel slowly along branches rather than swinging energetically.
Buoyed by their aquatic environment, whales have evolved into the largest mammals and indeed the largest animals ever.
- See also: Aerial locomotion
To maintain a high constant body temperature is energy expensive- mammals therefore need a nutritious and plentiful diet. While the earliest mammals were probably predators, different species have since adapted to meet their dietary requirements in a variety of ways. Some eat animal prey- this is a carnivorous diet (and includes insectivorous diets). Other mammals, called herbivores, eat plants. An herbivorous diet includes sub-types such as fruit-eating and grass-eating. An omnivore eats boths prey and plants. Carnivorous mammals have a simple digestive tract, because the proteins, lipids, and minerals found in meat require little in the way of specialized digestion. Plants, on the other hand, contain complex carbohydrates, such as cellulose. The digestive tract of an herbivore is therefore host to bacteria that ferment these substances, and make them available for digestion. The bacteria are either housed in the multichambered stomach or in a large cecum. The size of an animal is also a factor in determining diet type. Since small mammals have a high ratio of heat losing surface area to heat generating volume, they tend to have high-energy requirements and a high metabolic rate. Mammals that weigh less than about 18 oz (500g) are mostly insectivorous because they cannot tolerate the slow, complex digestive process of a herbivore. Larger animals on the other hand generate more heat and less of this heat is lost. They can therefore tolerate either a slower collection process (those that prey on larger vertebrates) or a slower digestive process (herbivores). Furthermore, mammals that weigh more than 18 oz (500g) usually cannot collect enough insects during their waking hours to sustain themselves. The only large insectivorous mammals are those that feed on huge colonies of insects (ants or termites).
Specializations in herbivory include: Granivory "seed eating", Folivory "leaf eating", Fruivory "fruit eating", Nectivory "nectar eating", Gumivory "gum eating", and Mycophagy "fungus eating"
- For more details on this topic, see Evolution of mammals.
The evolution of mammals from synapsids, also known as mammal-like "reptiles" was a gradual process which took approximately 70 million years, from the mid-Permian through the Triassic period to the mid-Jurassic, and by the mid-Triassic there were many species that looked like mammals. Note that synapsids are not reptiles at all, but belong to a distinct lineage of tetrapods.
[[Image:Skull synapsida 1.png|thumb|The original synapsid skull structure has one hole behind each eye, in a fairly low position on the skull (lower right in this image).]] The first fully terrestrial vertebrates were amniotes. Like the amphibians they evolved from, they had legs and lungs. Amniotes' eggs, however, had internal membranes which allowed the developing embryo to breathe but kept water in. This allowed amniotes to lay eggs on dry land, while amphibians generally need to lay their eggs in water.
The first amniotes apparently arose in the late Carboniferous. They descended from amphibians, which were numerous at the time, and lived on land already inhabited by insects, other invertebrates, ferns, mosses, and other plants. Within a few million years two important amniote lineages became distinct: the synapsids, from which mammals are descended; and the sauropsids, from which lizards, snakes, crocodilians, dinosaurs and birds are descended. Synapsids have a single hole (temporal fenestra) low on each side of the skull.
Therapsids descended from pelycosaurs in the middle Permian, about 260M years ago, and took over their position as the dominant land vertebrates. They differ from pelycosaurs in several features of the skull and jaws, including: larger temporal fenestrae; incisors which are equal in size. The therapsids went through a series of stages, beginning with animals which were very like their pelycosaur ancestors and ending with the Triassic cynodonts, some of which could easily be mistaken for mammals. Those stages were characterized by:
- gradual development of a bony secondary palate.
- the dentary gradually becomes the main bone of the lower jaw.
- progress towards an erect limb posture, which would increase the animals' stamina by avoiding Carrier's constraint. But this process was slow and erratic - for example: all herbivorous therapsids retained sprawling limbs (some late forms may have had semi-erect hind limbs); Permian carnivorous therapsids had sprawling forelimbs, and some late Permian ones also had semi-sprawling hindlimbs. In fact modern monotremes still have semi-sprawling limbs.
- in the Triassic, progress towards the mammalian jaw and middle ear.
- there is possible evidence of hair in Triassic therapsids, but none for Permian therapsids.
- some scientists have argued that some Triassic therapsids show signs of lactation.
The Permian–Triassic extinction event ended the dominance of the therapsids, and in the early Triassic all the medium to large land animal niches were taken over by archosaurs, which were the ancestors of crocodilians, pterosaurs, dinosaurs and birds. After this "Triassic Takeover" the cynodonts and their descendants could only survive as small, mainly nocturnal insectivores. This may actually have accelerated the evolution of mammals - for example the surviving cynodonts and their descendants had to evolve towards warm-bloodedness because their small bodies would otherwise have lost heat quickly, especially as they were active mainly at night.
The first true mammals appeared in the early Jurassic, over 70 million years after the first therapsids and approximately 30 million years after the first mammaliaformes. Hadrocodium appears to be in the middle of the transition to true mammal status — it had a mammalian jaw joint (formed by the dentary and squamosal bones), but there is some debate about whether its middle ear was fully mammalian.
- they use the same orifice to urinate, defecate and reproduce ("monotreme" means "one hole") - as lizards and birds also do.
- they lay eggs which are leathery and uncalcified, like those of lizards, turtles and crocodilians.
Unlike other mammals, female monotremes do not have nipples and feed their young by "sweating" milk from patches on their bellies.
The oldest known marsupial is Sinodelphys, found in 125M-year old early Cretaceous shale in China's northeastern Liaoning Province. The fossil is nearly complete and includes tufts of fur and imprints of soft tissues.
The living Eutheria ("true beasts") are all placentals. But the earliest known eutherian, Eomaia, found in China and dated to 125M years ago, has some features which are more like those of marsupials (the surviving metatherians):
- Epipubic bones extending forwards from the pelvis, which are not found in any modern placental, but are found in marsupials, monotremes and mammaliformes such as multituberculates. In other words, they appear to be an ancestral feature which subsequently disappeared in the placental lineage.
- A narrow pelvic outlet, which indicates that the young were very small at birth and therefore pregnancy was short, as in modern marsupials. This suggests that the placenta was a later development.
The traditional view is that: mammals only took over the medium- to large-sized ecological niches in the Cenozoic, after the extinction of the dinosaurs; but then they diversified very quickly; for example the earliest known bat dates from about 50M years ago, only 15M years after the extinction of the dinosaurs.
On the other hand recent molecular phylogenetic studies suggest that most placental orders diverged about 100M to 85M years ago, but that modern families first appeared in the late Eocene and early Miocene But paleontologists object that no placental fossils have been found from before the end of the Cretaceous
During the Cenozoic several groups of mammals appeared which were much larger than their nearest modern equivalents - but none was even close to the size of the largest dinosaurs with similar feeding habits.
Earliest appearances of featuresEdit
The earliest clear evidence of hair or fur is in fossils of Castorocauda, from 164M years ago in the mid Jurassic. From 1955 onwards some scientists have interpreted the foramina (passages) in the maxillae (upper jaws) and premaxillae (small bones in front of the maxillae) of cynodonts as channels which supplied blood vessels and nerves to vibrissae (whiskers), and suggested that this was evidence of hair or fur. But foramina do not necessarily show that an animal had vibrissae - for example the modern lizard Tupinambis has foramina which are almost identical to those found in the non-mammalian cynodont Thrinaxodon.
The evolution of erect limbs in mammals is incomplete — living and fossil monotremes have sprawling limbs. In fact some scientists think that the parasagittal (non-sprawling) limb posture is a synapomorphy (distinguishing characteristic) of the Boreosphenida, a group which contains the Theria and therefore includes the last common ancestor of modern marsupial and placentals - and therefore that all earlier mammals had sprawling limbs. Sinodelphys (the earliest known marsupial) and Eomaia (the earliest known eutherian) lived about 125M years ago, so erect limbs must have evolved before then.
It is currently very difficult to be confident when endothermy first appeared in the evolution of mammals. Modern monotremes have a lower body temperature and more variable metabolic rate than marsupials and placentals. So the main question is when a monotreme-like metabolism evolved in mammals. The evidence found so far suggests Triassic cynodonts may have had fairly high metabolic rates, but is not conclusive. In particular it is difficult to see how small animals can maintain a high and stable body temperature without fur.
- Main article: Mammal classification
George Gaylord Simpson's "Principles of Classification and a Classification of Mammals" (AMNH Bulletin v. 85, 1945) was the original source for the taxonomy listed here. Simpson laid out a systematics of mammal origins and relationships that was universally taught until the end of the 20th century. Since Simpson's classification, the paleontological record has been recalibrated, and the intervening years have seen much debate and progress concerning the theoretical underpinnings of systematization itself, partly through the new concept of cladistics. Though field work gradually made Simpson's classification outdated, it remained the closest thing to an official classification of mammals.
Standardized textbook classificationEdit
A somewhat standardized classification system has been adopted by most current mammalogy classroom textbooks. The following taxonomy of extant and recently extinct mammals is from Vaughan et al. (2000).
- Subclass Prototheria: monotremes: platypuses and echidnas
- Subclass Theria: live-bearing mammals
In 1997, the mammals were comprehensively revised by Malcolm C. McKenna and Susan K. Bell, which has resulted in the "McKenna/Bell classification".
McKenna and Bell, Classification of Mammals: Above the species level, (1997) is the most comprehensive work to date on the systematics, relationships, and occurrences of all mammal taxa, living and extinct, down through the rank of genus. The new McKenna/Bell classification was quickly accepted by paleontologists. The authors work together as paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. McKenna inherited the project from Simpson and, with Bell, constructed a completely updated hierarchical system, covering living and extinct taxa that reflects the historical genealogy of Mammalia.
The McKenna/Bell hierarchical listing of all of the terms used for mammal groups above the species includes extinct mammals as well as modern groups, and introduces some fine distinctions such as legions and sublegions (ranks which fall between classes and orders) that are likely to be glossed over by the nonprofessionals.
The published re-classification forms both a comprehensive and authoritative record of approved names and classifications and a list of invalid names.
Extinct groups are represented by a cross (†).
- Subclass Prototheria: monotremes: echidnas and the Platypus
- Subclass Theriiformes: live-bearing mammals and their prehistoric relatives
- Infraclass †Allotheria: multituberculates
- Infraclass †Triconodonta: triconodonts
- Infraclass Holotheria: modern live-bearing mammals and their prehistoric relatives
- Supercohort Theria: live-bearing mammals
- Cohort Marsupialia: marsupials
- Cohort Placentalia: placentals
- Magnorder Xenarthra: xenarthrans
- Magnorder Epitheria: epitheres
- Grandorder Anagalida: lagomorphs, rodents, and elephant shrews
- Grandorder Ferae: carnivorans, pangolins, †creodonts, and relatives
- Grandorder Lipotyphla: insectivorans
- Grandorder Archonta: bats, primates, colugos, and treeshrews
- Grandorder Ungulata: ungulates
- Supercohort Theria: live-bearing mammals
Molecular classification of placentalsEdit
Molecular studies based on DNA analysis have suggested new relationships among mammal families over the last few years. Most of these findings have been independently validated by Retrotransposon presence/absence data. The most recent classification systems based on molecular studies have proposed four groups or lineages of placental mammals. Molecular clocks suggest that these clades diverged from early common ancestors in the Cretaceous, but fossils have not been found to corroborate this hypothesis. These molecular findings are consistent with mammal zoogeography:
Following molecular DNA sequence analyses, the first divergence was that of the Afrotheria 110–100 million years ago. The Afrotheria proceeded to evolve and diversify in the isolation of the African-Arabian continent. The Xenarthra, isolated in South America, diverged from the Boreoeutheria approximately 100–95 million years ago. According to an alternative view, the Xenarthra has the Afrotheria as closest allies, forming the Atlantogenata as sistergroup to Boreoeutheria. The Boreoeutheria split into the Laurasiatheria and Euarchontoglires between 95 and 85 mya; both of these groups evolved on the northern continent of Laurasia. After tens of millions of years of relative isolation, Africa-Arabia collided with Eurasia, exchanging Afrotheria and Boreoeutheria. The formation of the Isthmus of Panama linked South America and North America, which facilitated the exchange of mammal species in the Great American Interchange. The traditional view that no placental mammals reached Australasia until about 5 million years ago when bats and murine rodents arrived has been challenged by recent evidence and may need to be reassessed. These molecular results are still controversial because they are not reflected by morphological data, and thus not accepted by many systematists. Further there is some indication from Retrotransposon presence/absence data that the traditional Epitheria hypothesis, suggesting Xenarthra as the first divergence, might be true.
- Clade Atlantogenata
- Group I: Afrotheria
- Clade Afroinsectiphilia
- Clade Paenungulata
- Group II: Xenarthra
- Group I: Afrotheria
- Clade Boreoeutheria
- Group III: Euarchontoglires (Supraprimates)
- Superorder Euarchonta
- Superorder Glires
- Group IV: Laurasiatheria
- Order Erinaceomorpha: hedgehogs
- Order Soricomorpha: moles, shrews, solenodons
- Clade Ferungulata
- Clade Cetartiodactyla
- Clade Pegasoferae
- Group III: Euarchontoglires (Supraprimates)
Particular groups studied by psychologistsEdit
Psychologists have studied:
- Primates (nonhuman)
- Seals (animal)
- ↑ (2005-11-16) Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds) Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition, Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- ↑ Rose, Kenneth D. (2006). The beginning of the age of mammals, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
- ↑ McKenna, Malcolm C.; Bell, Susan Groag. Classification of Mammals, Columbia University Press.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 (2001) Don E. Wilson & David Burnie Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife, 1st edition, 86–89, DK Publishing.
- ↑ Amniota - Palaeos.
- ↑ Synapsida overview - Palaeos.
- ↑ Therapsida - Palaeos.
- ↑ Kermack (1984). The evolution of mammalian characters, Croom Helm.
- ↑ Cynodontia: Overview - Palaeos.
- ↑ Symmetrodonta - Palaeos.
- ↑ Oldest Marsupial Fossil Found in China. National Geographic News.
- ↑ Eomaia scansoria: discovery of oldest known placental mammal.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Dinosaur Extinction Spurred Rise of Modern Mammals. News.nationalgeographic.com. URL accessed on 2009-03-08.
- ↑ Jurassic "Beaver" Found; Rewrites History of Mammals.
- ↑ Rogue finger gene got bats airborne. Newscientist.com. URL accessed on 2009-03-08.
- ↑ Bininda-Emonds, O.R.P. (2007). The delayed rise of present-day mammals. Nature (446): 507–511.
- ↑ Oftedal, O.T. (2002). The mammary gland and its origin during synapsid evolution. Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia 7 (3): 225–252.
- ↑ Oftedal, O.T. (2002). The origin of lactation as a water source for parchment-shelled eggs=Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia 7 (3): 253–266.
- ↑ Lactating on Eggs. Nationalzoo.si.edu. URL accessed on 2009-03-08.
- ↑ Brink, A.S. (1955). A study on the skeleton of Diademodon. Palaeontologia Africana 3: 3–39.
- ↑ Kemp, T.S. (1982). Mammal-like reptiles and the origin of mammals, London: Academic Press.
- ↑ Bennett, A. F. and Ruben, J. A. (1986) "The metabolic and thermoregulatory status of therapsids"; pp. 207–218 in N. Hotton III, P. D. MacLean, J. J. Roth and E. C. Roth (eds), "The ecology and biology of mammal-like reptiles", Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.
- ↑ Estes, R. (1961). Cranial anatomy of the cynodont reptile Thrinaxodon liorhinus. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology: 165–180.
- ↑ Ice Age Animals, Illinois State Museum
- ↑ Kielan−Jaworowska, Z. (2006). Limb posture in early mammals: Sprawling or parasagittal. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 51 (3): 10237–10239.
- ↑ Paul, G.S. (1988). Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, New York: Simon and Schuster.
- Bergsten, Johannes. February 2005. "A review of long-branch attraction". Cladistics 21:163–193. (pdf version)
- Brown, W.M. (2001). Natural selection of mammalian brain components. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 16, 471-473.
- Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2006). Mammalia Palaestina: The Mammals of Palestine.Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 55, July 2006. pp. 1–46.
- McKenna, Malcolm C., and Bell, Susan K. 1997. Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level. Columbia University Press, New York, 631 pp. ISBN 0-231-11013-8
- Nowak, Ronald M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1936 pp. ISBN 0-8018-5789-9
- Simpson, George Gaylord. 1945. "The principles of classification and a classification of mammals". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 85:1–350.
- William J. Murphy, Eduardo Eizirik, Mark S. Springer et al., Resolution of the Early Placental Mammal Radiation Using Bayesian Phylogenetics,Science, Vol 294, Issue 5550, 2348–2351 , 14 December 2001.
- Springer, Mark S., Michael J. Stanhope, Ole Madsen, and Wilfried W. de Jong. 2004. "Molecules consolidate the placental mammal tree". Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 19:430–438. (PDF version)
- Vaughan, Terry A., James M. Ryan, and Nicholas J. Capzaplewski. 2000. Mammalogy: Fourth Edition. Saunders College Publishing, 565 pp. ISBN 0-03-025034-X (Brooks Cole, 1999)
- Jan Ole Kriegs, Gennady Churakov, Martin Kiefmann, Ursula Jordan, Juergen Brosius, Juergen Schmitz. (2006) Retroposed Elements as Archives for the Evolutionary History of Placental Mammals. PLoS Biol 4(4): e91. PLoS Biology - Retroposed Elements as Archives for the Evolutionary History of Placental Mammals. Biology.plosjournals.org. URL accessed on 2009-03-08.
- David MacDonald, Sasha Norris. 2006. The Encyclopedia of Mammals, 3rd edition. Printed in China, 930 pp. ISBN 0-681-45659-0.
- GlobalTwitcher.com - All species in the world with distribution maps and images
- North American Fossil Mammal Systematics Database
- Paleocene Mammals, a site covering the rise of the mammals
- Evolution of Mammals, a brief introduction to early mammals
- Tree of Life poster - Shows mammals' evolutionary relation to other organisms
- The Evolution of Mesozoic Mammals, a Rough Sketch, an informal introduction
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History, some discoveries of early mammal fossils
- Mammal Taxonomy, database of mammals of the world, updated each month
- High-Resolution Images of various Mammalian Brains
- Mammal Species, collection of information sheets about various mammal species
- Summary of molecular support for Epitheria
- Mikko's Phylogeny Archive
- European Mammal Atlas EMMA from Societas Europaea Mammalogica
- Marine Mammals of the World—An overview of all marine mammals, including descriptions, multimedia and a key
- MAMMALOGY .org The American Society of Mammalogists was established in 1919 for the purpose of promoting the study of mammals, and this website includes a mammal image library
Extant mammal orders by infraclass
Afrosoricida · Macroscelidea · Tubulidentata · Hyracoidea · Proboscidea · Sirenia · Cingulata · Pilosa · Scandentia · Dermoptera · Primates · Rodentia · Lagomorpha · Erinaceomorpha · Soricomorpha · Chiroptera · Pholidota · Carnivora · Perissodactyla · Artiodactyla · Cetacea
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