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What is a Mammal?

Mammals, like humans, have a rigid rib cage.
Camels are even-toed ungulates, which are a type of mammal, that have been used as beasts of burden in arid environments for thousands of years.
Like all whales, the humpback evolved from terrestrial mammals that adapted to life at sea over the course of many generations.
Bats are the smallest mammals.
Some mammals, such as manatees, live in the water.
Small mammals like chinchillas are kept as pets.
Many types of common house pets, including cats and dogs, are mammals.
Dolphins are among a small group of mammals that live in the water.
Dolphins are mammals that live in water.
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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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A mammal is member of the Mammalia class of animals, and includes many familiar creatures, including humans. There are more than 5,000 species, most of which live on land, excluding a few species such as dolphins, whales, and manatees. A mammal can be recognized by a series of unique characteristics, which include the following:

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GenevaMech
Post 4

@ Georgesplane- Are you ready for this? The news you ask for is sobering. Of the approximately 5500 mammal species, 22% are threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. This includes many iconic species like the lion, snow leopard, cheetah, tiger, elephant and other mammals. To be placed on the red list, a species must be threatened, endangered, or critically endangered. Some of the greatest species are down to populations that rank in the hundreds, and hundreds of mammal species (a couple percent) will likely to be extinct within a generation. This loss of biodiversity far outpaces the speed of evolutionary processes.

If you need a more sobering perspective, off all the major species in the world, the IUCN has identified 38% of them as threatened, endangered, or critically endangered. Another small percentage of all species is extinct in the wild, or have gone extinct altogether.

Although some may point out that conservation efforts have reduced the number of species on the red list, you must also take into consideration that 86% of the species on the list that changed from 2007-2008 moved closer to extinction. A sterile world with very little biodiversity is an extreme possibility within the next few hundred to thousand years.

Georgesplane
Post 3

@ babalaas- Does anyone know what the number of endangered mammal species is? I am curious to know if mammal evolution is occurring faster than they are going extinct. I wonder if the rate of extinction is anywhere near sustainable, or if we are slowly marching towards a planet devoid of biodiversity. I read about a lot of controversy concerning biodiversity loss, and I am just trying to gauge how serious of a threat it is.

Babalaas
Post 2

This is a great article. The article was short and to the point. One fact that surprised me was the bit about the total number of species. I would have thought that there were far more than 5400 species. After reading that number, the prospect of losing a mammal species to human caused extinction much more upsetting. I would have thought that there would have been somewhere in the tens to hundreds of thousands of species of mammals. I now have a greater appreciation of endangered mammals.

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