Within the long history of our planet, mammals have exalted to be to be some of the most complex and influential species to have ever roamed the Earth. Being considered as a mammal, humans are arguably responsible for the advancement of the mammalian archetype itself. Evolving, adapting and continually learning how to improve upon our ancestors.
Mammals have a wider distribution than any other class of animals with the exception of certain insects and arachnids. This adaptability can be attributed to their ability to regulate and maintain their body temperature according to their surroundings both in heat and cold environments.
But what exactly makes us a mammal and what distinguishes mammals from other organisms that we share this planet with? Read on to learn what truly makes an animal qualify into the ranks of mammals.
What makes a mammal?
Mammals by definition are any vertebrate animals that are characterized by having special milk glands to nourish their young ones, are warm-blooded and have some type of hair or fur that covers their external bodies.
There are minor exceptions, such as sea-dwelling mammals like whales where their fur has disappeared over the course of evolution.
What are the different types of mammals?
In general mammals can be classified into three different categories based on how they give birth. The first type are Placental Mammals, they are characterized by giving birth to a live offspring that are alive upon birth. The easiest example would be humans ourselves that give birth to a living healthy baby.
The second category would be Marsupials, they carry their young in a type of pouch such as the kangaroo and koala. New born Marsupials are not completely developed at birth and continually develop in the pouches of their parents outside the womb.
The last type of mammals are called Monotremes, and they reproduce by laying eggs such as the Platypus and Echidnas.
Since the dawn of evolution, mammals have proliferated and expanded into some of the most diverse species on the planet. Ranging from the largest animal on the planet, the Blue Whale to the Bumblebee Bat that measures just over an inch long.
Almost every conceivable habitat has been principally dominated by mammals.
Mammals also have some of the most evolved brain structure and function in the animal kingdom. With their highly developed brains, they’ve developed forms of communication between their species, have shown emotional behaviors and are socially complex animals, much like humans.
These highly intelligent mammals include dolphins, elephants and various types of primates.