Classification of mammals

ByDr. Girish Chandra


(Dr. Girish Chandra)

        Mammals are defined as vertebrates that possess hairs and mammary glands for feeding young. They also possess a four-chambered heart, a large cerebral cortex, three distinctive bones: incus, malleus and stapes in the middle ear, a diaphragm for breathing, heterodont and thecodont dentition, limbs attached under the body, dicondylic skull and acoelous vertebrae. The class Mammalia is classified into three subclasses, 28 Orders, 161 Families, 747 Genera and 4939 Species

Subclass PROTOTHERIA  (Egg-laying mammals)

Order Monotremata  includes 2 families of mammals that lay eggs with leathery shells and nourish the young with milk from primitive mammary glands. They possess a cloaca like reptiles, have no urinary bladder but possess hairs.

         Family Ornithorhynchidae, duck-billed platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

       Family Tachyglossidae, spiny anteaters (Tachyglossus and Zaglossus)

Subclass METATHERIA (Marsupial mammals)

        Includes about 300 species grouped under about 240 genera and 15 families, whose young are born in immature state and then reared in pouches called marsupium. Found in Australia and South America. Opossum has now spread to North America.

Order Marsupialia (Body covered with fur; pinna well developed; female with marsupium; tympanic bulla absent; diaphragm and seven cervical vertebrae are present and the marsupial bone (epipubis) present).

   Family    Didelphidae, Opossums, 65 species
                Thylacinidae,  Tasmanian wolf, 1 species

                Dasyuridae, Native cats, marsupial mice,  48 species
                Myrmecobiidae,  Numbat, 1 species
                Notoryctidae,  Marsupial moles,
                Peramelidae,  Bandicoots, 22 species
                Thylacomyidae,  Burrowing bandicoots, 20 species
                Caenolestidae,  rat opossums, 7 species
                Phalangeridae,  Phalangers, cuscuses, 15 species
                Burramyidae,  pigmy possums,  6 species
                Petauridae,  Gliding phalangers,  25 species
                Macropodidae,  Kangaroos, wallabies,  47 species
                Phascolarctidae,  Koala,  1 species
                Vombatidae,  Wombat, 4 species
                Tarsipedidae, Honey possum, 1 species

Subclass EUTHERIA (Placental mammals)

    True mammals which are completely viviparous, with chorio-allantoic placenta and in which complete development takes place in uterus.

Order Insectivora

 Family  Erinaceidae, Hedgehogs, gymnures
Talpidae, Moles
Tenrecidae, Tenrecs
Potamogalidae, Otter shrews
Chrysochloridae, Golden moles
Solenodontidae, Solenodon, almiqui
Soricidae, Shrews
Macroscelididae, Elephant shrews
Tupaiidae, Tree shrew

Order Chiroptera

 Family Pteropodidae, Old World fruit bats, flying foxes
Rhinopomatidae, Mouse-tailed bats
Emballonuridae, Sheath-tailed or sac-winged bats
Nycteridae, Slit-faced or hollow-faced bats
Megadermatidae, False vampires
Hipposideridae, Old World leaf-nosed bats
Rhinolophidae, Horseshoe bats
Noctilionidae, Bulldog bats
Mormoopidae, Insectivorous bats
Phyllostomatidae, American leaf-nosed bats
Desmodontidae, Vampire bats
Natalidae, Funnel-eared bats
Furipteridae, Smoky bats
Thyropteridae, Disk-winged bats
Myzopodidae, Old World sucker-footed bats
Vespertilionidae, Common bats
Mystacinidae, New Zealand short-tailed bats
Molossidae, Free-tailed bats

Order Dermoptera

            Flying lemurs (Cynocephalus)

Order Rodentia

 Family Aplodontidae Mountain Beaver
Sciuridae Squirrels, chipmunks, marmots
Cricetidae Field mice, voles, lemmings, muskrats
Muridae Old World rats and mice
Heteromyidae mice, pocket mice, kangaroo rats
Geomyidae, Pocket gophers
Zapodidae, Jumping and birch mice
Dipodidae, Jerboas
Spalacidae, Mole rats
Rhizomyidae, Bamboo rats
Octodontidae, Octodonts, degus
Echimyidae, Spiny rats, rock rats
Ctenomyidae, Tuco-tucos
Abrocomidae, Abrocomes or chinchilla rats
Chinchillidae, Chichillas, viscachas
Capromyidae, Hutias, coupus
Dasyproctidae, Pacas, agoutis
Dinomyidae, Pacarana
Caviidae, Cavies, guinea pigs
Hydrochoeridae, Capybaras
Erethizontidae, New World porcupines
Petromuridae, Rock or dassie rat
Thryonomyidae, Cane rats
Bathyergidae, African mole rats
Hystricidie, Old World porcupines
Castoridae, Beavers
Anomaluridae, Scaly-tailed squirrels
Ctenodactylidae, Gundis
Pedetidae, Cane jumping hare
Gliridae, Dormice
Seleveniidae, Jumping dormouse

Order Edentata

 Family Myrmecophagidae, Giant Anteater
Bradypodidae, Tree sloths
Dasypodidae, Armadillos

Order Pholidota

            Scaly anteater (Manis)

Order Tubulidentata

            Cape anteater (Aardvark)

Order Lagomorpha

  Family Ochotonidae, Pikas
Leporidae, Hares, rabbits

Order Carnivora

 Family Canidae, Dogs, foxes, wolves, jackals
Ursidae, Bears, giant panda
Otariidae, Eared seals, walrus
Procyonidae, Racoons, lesser panda
Mustelidae, Weasels, otters, skunks, badgers, minks
Phocidae, Earless seals
Felidae, Cats
Viverridae, Civets, mongooses
Hyaenidae, Hyenas

Order Cetacea

 Family Balaenidae, Right whales
Eschrichtiidae, Grey whale
Balaenopteridae, Rorquals, humpbacks
Platanistidae, River dolphins
Delphinidae, Dolphins, killer whales
Phocoenidae, Porpoises
Monodontidae, Beluga, narwhal
Physeteridae, Sperm whales
Hyperoodontidae, Beaked whales
Stenidae, Long-snouted dolphins

Order Proboscidea

 Family Elephantidae, African and Asiatic elephants

Order Sirenia

  Family Dugongidae, Dugong
Trichechidae, Manatees

Order Hyracoidea

            Hyrax (=Procavia)

Order Perissodactyla

 Family Equidae, horses, asses, donkeys, zebras
Tapiridae, Tapirs
Rhinocerotidae, Rhinoceroses

Order Artiodactyla

 Family Tragulidae, Chevrotains
Antilocapridae, Pronghorn
Giraffidae, Giraffe, okapi
Cervidae, Deer
Bovidae, Cattle, goats, sheep, antelopes, gazelles
Camelidae, Camels, llamas
Suidae, Pigs
Tayassuidae, Peccaries
Hippopotamidae, Hippopotamuses


 Family  Lemuridae, Lemurs
Cheirogaleidae, Dwarf lemurs, mouse lemurs
Indriidae, Indrii, sifaka, avali
Daubentoniidae, Aye aye (lemur)
Lepilmuridae, Sportive lemurs
Galagidae, Galagos
Lorisidae, Lorises, pottos, bushbabies
Tupaiidae, Tree shrews
Tarsiidae, Tarsiers
Callithricidae, Tamarins, marmosets
Cebidae, New World monkeys
Cercopithecidae, Old World monkeys
Hylobatidae, Gibbons, siamangs
Pongidae, Great apes: gorilla, chimpanzee, orangutan
Hominidae, Man


By (author): Jonathan Elphick, David Burnie, Steve Parker, Christopher Norris

A continent-by-continent look at the diversity of mammal life, providing insights into when, where, how, and why mammals have evolved and adapted to the widest range of environments. Each chapter is broken down by habitat, setting the mammals and their stories in context.
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