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Illustration a shows a bird’s wing, which has two sections of flight feathers, the long primary feathers toward the tip of the wing and the secondary feathers closer to the body. Illustration b shows a hollow bone with structural supports providing reinforcement.
(a) Primary feathers are located at the wing tip and provide thrust; secondary feathers are located close to the body and provide lift. (b) Many birds have hollow pneumatic bones, which make flight easier.

Birds possess a system of air sacs branching from their primary airway that divert the path of air so that it passes unidirectionally through the lung, during both inspiration and expiration. Unlike mammalian lungs in which air flows in two directions as it is breathed in and out, air flows continuously through the bird’s lung to provide a more efficient system of gas exchange.


Mammals are vertebrates that have hair and mammary glands used to provide nutrition for their young. Certain features of the jaw, skeleton, skin, and internal anatomy are also unique to mammals. The presence of hair is one of the key characteristics of a mammal. Although it is not very extensive in some groups, such as whales, hair has many important functions for mammals. Mammals are endothermic, and hair provides insulation by trapping a layer of air close to the body to retain metabolic heat. Hair also serves as a sensory mechanism through specialized hairs called vibrissae, better known as whiskers. These attach to nerves that transmit touch information, which is particularly useful to nocturnal or burrowing mammals. Hair can also provide protective coloration.

The skeletal system of mammals possesses unique features that differentiate them from other vertebrates. Most mammals have heterodont teeth, meaning they have different types and shapes of teeth that allow them to feed on different kinds of foods. These different types of teeth include the incisors, the canines, premolars, and molars. The first two types are for cutting and tearing, whereas the latter two types are for crushing and grinding. Different groups have different proportions of each type, depending on their diet. Most mammals are also diphyodonts, meaning they have two sets of teeth in their lifetime: deciduous or “baby” teeth, and permanent teeth. In other vertebrates, the teeth can be replaced throughout life.

Modern mammals are divided into three broad groups: monotremes, marsupials, and eutherians (mammals with a placenta). The eutherians and the marsupials collectively are called therian mammals, whereas monotremes are called metatherians.

There are three living species of monotremes: the platypus and two species of echidnas, or spiny anteaters ( [link] ). The platypus and one species of echidna are found in Australia, whereas the other species of echidna is found in New Guinea. Monotremes are unique among mammals, as they lay leathery eggs, similar to those of reptiles, rather than giving birth to live young. However, the eggs are retained within the mother’s reproductive tract until they are almost ready to hatch. Once the young hatch, the female begins to secrete milk from pores in a ridge of mammary tissue along the ventral side of her body. Like other mammals, monotremes are endothermic but regulate body temperatures somewhat lower (90 °F, 32 °C) than placental mammals do (98 °F, 37 °C).

The illustration on the left shows two short-haired platypus with webbed feet, flat tails, and a flat snout. The photo on the right shows an echidna with a long fleshy snout and a body covered in coarse hair and spines.
The platypus (left), a monotreme, possesses a leathery beak and lays eggs rather than giving birth to live young. An echidna, another monotreme, is shown in the right photo. (credit “echidna”: modification of work by Barry Thomas)

Marsupials are found primarily in Australia and nearby islands, although about 100 species of opossums and a few species of two other families are found in the Americas. Australian marsupials number over 230 species and include the kangaroo, koala, bandicoot, and Tasmanian devil ( [link] ). Most species of marsupials possess a pouch in which the young reside after birth, receiving milk and continuing to develop. Before birth, marsupials have a less complex placental connection, and the young are born much less developed than in placental mammals.

The illustration shows an animal resembling a small bear lying in the grass.
The Tasmanian devil is one of several marsupials native to Australia. (credit: Wayne McLean)

Eutherian diversity

Four mammals, bat, anteater, dolphin, cat
Four eutherian mammals: A. A chiropteran, the Mexican Long-tongued Bat ( Choeronycteris mexicana ) feeding on sugar water at a hummingbird feeder. These bats pollinate many varieties of cactuses and agaves, including the blue agave that is used to make tequila. B. Pink River Dolphin ( Inia geoffrensis ), a freshwater cetacean found in the Amazon River and its tributaries. C. A xenarthran, the Giant Anteater or Tamandua ( Tamandua tetradactyla ), hunting for termites in the Pantanal of Brazil. D. A member of the order Carnivora, the Domestic Cat ( Felis catus ). Photo credits - David A. Rintoul

Eutherians are the most widespread of the mammals, occurring throughout the world. There are several groups of eutherians, including Insectivora, the insect eaters; Xenarthra, the toothless anteaters; Rodentia, the rodents; Chiroptera, the bats; Cetacea, the aquatic mammals including whales; Carnivora, carnivorous mammals including dogs, cats, and bears; and Primates, which includes humans. Eutherian mammals are sometimes called placental mammals, because all species have a complex placenta that connects a fetus to the mother, allowing for gas, fluid, waste, and nutrient exchange. While other mammals may possess a less complex placenta or briefly have a placenta, all eutherians have a complex placenta during gestation.

Questions & Answers

Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of biology. OpenStax CNX. Aug 09, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11569/1.25
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