20.3 Classification of Mammals

Lesson Objectives

  • Learn about traditional classification of mammals.

Vocabulary

  • None! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Classification of Placental Mammals

Traditional classifications of mammals are based on similarities in structure and function. Increasingly, mammals are being classified on the basis of molecular similarities.

Traditional Classification

The most widely accepted traditional classification of mammals divides living placental mammals into 17 orders. These orders are shown in Table below. This classification of mammals was widely accepted for more than 50 years. Placental mammals are still commonly placed in these orders.

Remember, animals are classified like you would classify different types of Legos or other items. It’s just an easier way to keep similar things grouped together.

Order Example Sample Trait
Insectivora

mole

20.3a

small sharp teeth
Edentata

anteater

20.3b

few or no teeth
Pholidota

pangolin

20.3c

large plate-like scales
Chiroptera

bat

20.3d

digits support membranous wings
Carnivora

coyote

20.3e

long pointed canine teeth
Rodentia

mouse

20.3f

incisor teeth grow continuously
Lagomorpha

rabbit

20.3g

chisel-like incisor teeth
Perissodactyla

horse

20.3h

odd-toed hooves
Artiodactyla

deer

20.3i

even-toed hooves
Cetacea

whale

20.3j

paddle-like forelimbs
Primates

monkey

20.3k

five digits on hands and feet
Proboscidea

elephant

20.3l

tusks
Hyracoidea

hyrax

20.3m

rubbery pads on feet
Dermoptera

colugo

Colugo

membrane of skin between legs for gliding
Pinnipedia

seal

20.3o

feet with fins
Sirenia

manatee

20.3p

paddle-like tail
Tubulidentata

aardvark

20.3q

teeth without enamel

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Next: Overview of Animal Behavior

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