There’s nothing like a little David Attenborough to remind you of just how awesome this planet – and your Linnaean class – really is. (I’m watching Life of Mammals and made it through only the first episode before turning it off to write this.)
Mammals made a quiet entrance into the world of dinosaurs as tiny, mouse-sized creatures more than 200 million years ago. Since then, mammals have branched off into hoofed animals, primates like us, felines, canines, and more.
All mammals share a few common traits:
1. Skin glands. These can include sweat, sebaceous, scent, musk, and most well-known, the mammary glands that produce milk.
2. Pelage (pronounced, “PEL-edge”), also known as hair or fur. Even mammals like whales, dolphins, and the pangolin can have some sparse hair.
3. Our red blood cells don’t have nuclei, and we are warm-blooded (meaning we produce our own energy from our food, rather than soaking up the sun for energy.)
4. Three middle ear bones, which help us to hear better.
6. A four-chambered heart.
7. A lower jaw comprised of only one bone, rather than several.
Other traits, however, like live birth or placentas, depend on the sub-class. Cross the jump to get a quick introduction to the three sub-classes of mammals and their awesome unique traits!
Okay friends, I need your help. All of you.
I’m developing a program on predators and I want some unbiased feedback. Throw me some answers to the following questions in the comments section. It will only take a few minutes and I would be so greatly appreciative! Pass it along to friends, colleagues, students, etc; the more, the merrier!
1. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read or hear the word “predator”? (If the movie “Predator” comes to mind, that’s okay.)
2. What kind of feelings do you have when you hear or read the word “predator,” or think about predators?
3. How educated do you feel about predators in general? Have you ever sought to become more educated?
4. Do you think predators are important/beneficial, or do you think they’re inconsequential?
5. What kinds of words come to mind when you think about predators?
6. Name five to ten predators that you are most familiar with off the top of your head.
7. Do you think it’s necessary to teach kids about predators? What about adults?
8. Would you like to learn more about predators, their natural histories, and their effect on the environment?
9. Do you have hobbies or a profession that predisposes you to information about predators?
10. Do you think the media (news, movies, TV) provides an accurate portrayal of predators?
To show my heartfelt thanks, here’s a photo of a baby numbat being hand-fed. GOO.