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Portal:Mammals

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Mammals (class Mammalia) are vertebrate animals characterized by the presence of sweat glands, including milk producing sweat glands, and by the presence of: hair, three middle ear bones used in hearing, and a neocortex region in the brain. Mammals, other than the monotremes, give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. They also possess specialized teeth and use a placenta in the ontogeny. The mammalian brain regulates endothermic and circulatory systems, including a four-chambered heart. Mammals encompass approximately 5,400 species, ranging in size from the Bumblebee Bat, (30-40mm), to the Blue Whale, (33,000mm), distributed in about 1,200 genera, 153 families, and 29 orders, though this varies by classification scheme.

Most mammals belong to the placental group. The four largest orders within the placental mammals are Rodentia (mice, rats, and other small, gnawing mammals), Chiroptera (bats), Carnivora (dogs, cats, bears, and other mammals that primarily eat meat), and Cetartiodactyla (including numerous herbivore species, such as deer, sheep, goats, and buffalos, plus whales).

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 sauropsid line at the end of the Carboniferous period. The sauropsids 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.

Nuvola filesystems www.png Mammals ...

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Herdwick (sheep)
The Herdwick is a traditional breed of domestic sheep native to the mountainous Lake District of Cumbria in North West England. The name "Herdwick" is derived from the Old Norse herdvyck, meaning sheep pasture. Though low in lambing capacity and wool quality when compared to more common commercial breeds such as Merino sheep, Herdwicks are prized for their robust health, their ability to live solely on forage, and their tendency not to stray over the difficult upland terrain of the Lake District. An integral part of the cultural identity of the Lake District, the breed is for the most part found in the central and western dales of the region. Severely threatened by the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in England and Wales, the breed has survived due to the intent to preserve this unique animal as a crucial part of traditional Lakeland agriculture. Still far less in number than most commercial breeds, Herdwicks survive largely due to farming subsidies and the aid of the British National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty.

Did you know?

Caracal001.jpg
  • ....that Caracal (pictured) is very powerful for its size and has even been known to bring down a full grown adult Gazelle?
  • ...that Snuppy the Afghan Hound is the world's first cloned dog?
  • ...the male narwhal's tusk can be up to 3 metres in length and weigh up to 10 kilograms?
  • ...the Voyager Golden Record carried into space whale songs, among other sounds?
  • ...that 217 Dalmatians were used in the filming of 101 Dalmatians?
  • ...that Scarlett the cat is a former stray cat whose efforts to save her kittens from a fire, at serious harm to herself, attracted worldwide media attention and has been related in a number of nonfiction books?
  • ...that Dr. Johnson's cat Hodge has his own statue in Gough Square, London?

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prairie dog
Credit: Aaron Siirila

A black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys) at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., looks out from a system of burrows, characteristically scanning the horizon. On average, these rodents grow to between 12 and 16 inches (30 and 40 cm) long, including their short tails.

Scientific classification

KingdomAnimalia   PhylumChordata   SubphylumVertebrata   SuperclassTetrapoda   (unranked)Amniota   ClassMammalia


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