Vol 3 Mammals of Africa ... Introduction ... Diversity of mammals
Welcome to Nature-Explorer.net

Diversity of mammals

The smallest mammal is only 2 inches long and the largest measures over 100 feet in length!
Nature-Explorer.net is your Internet guide to the world of nature. Browse through the natural world from Rainforests to Deserts. Find out facts about animals from Komodo dragons to butterflies, from graceful dolphins to huge dinosaurs. All text and graphics are copyrighted by REMedia, or by third parties who are acknowledged within this web site.
Mammals range in size from the smallest shrews that may be only 2 inches long up to the huge elephants and whales. The blue whale can be 100 feet long. Some mammals are fierce predators adapted for hunting, while others like deer and gazelles are shy vegetarians. Each species shows adaptations for its lifestyle - for example meat eaters have sharp teeth to tear through their victims flesh, while vegetarians have grinding teeth to break tough plant tissues.

Mammals are grouped according to a number of criteria. Besides the obvious external features, the other main identifying structures are the animal's dentition (teeth), skeleton, feet, and digestive system. Information about extinct relatives of mammals may also give clues as to which animals share common ancestors. Sometimes internal structures can provide information about relationships that are not immediately obvious. The tiny hyrax and the huge elephant are thought to be closely related because of evolutionary connections (their common ancestors may have lived around 54 million years ago), and because their teeth and hooves share similarities.