When it comes to the animal kingdom, that would be almost all living things that aren’t plants or fungi, us humans tend to identify mostly with other mammals. Of course, there are people that keep fish, reptiles, birds, and amphibians as pets but they don’t tend to be the friendly, cuddly, kinds of pets at all. In fact, one of the traits of mammals is that they tend to all have hair or fur on their bodies. Most other animals don’t, they may have bare skin, scales, or feathers instead. At any rate, nearly all of the man’s closest animal friends are mammals like dogs, cats, hamsters, horses, rats, and even raccoons. We share a lot of traits with those animals since they are all mammals, let’s take a look.
One of the most important ways to separate mammals from other animals in the world is that mammals give birth to live babies. Many other animals, like lizards, turtles, birds, and frogs, lay eggs, lots of them, and then the eggs need to develop over time into an animal able to survive. Some types of animals do care for their eggs and then they’re young, others just lay the eggs and let them fend for themselves in the wild.
Most birds will sit on their eggs until they hatch to keep them warm and then gather food to feed them until they are old enough to leave the nest, but it isn’t very long, only a month until they’re gone. Most mammals give birth to developed babies that already have hearts, lungs, brains, bones, and muscles but they still need plenty of care from their mothers. That would include breastfeeding as that is a common characteristic of all mammals, even whales, and dolphins that live in the ocean.
The next thing that nearly all mammals share is hair, or fur, which is a rare trait in the rest of the animal world. Even seals that live in the ocean, have fur coats, as do cats, dogs, and mice as well. Plus, mammals are all warm-blooded as opposed to amphibians, fish, reptiles and other animals that don’t generate their own heat but survive at the temperature of their surroundings. Birds are an exception, they are warm-blooded like mammals and need to maintain a certain body temperature to survive.
Of course, there are scientists and researchers that study nearly every living creature on earth and others that study rocks, stars, air, and water as well. Each has its own title but they’re all intertwined in the universe of science. When it comes to living creatures, whether it’s a plant, animal, bacteria, or fungi, it will be made from cells that have nuclei, mitochondria, plasma, and a host of other ingredients, that’s what makes it alive.
Animals, as opposed to plants, get their nutrition from eating, either plants, fungi, or other animals. Plants, on the other hand, get basic nutrients from the soil and turn them into usable food using the sun’s rays. But even a mammalogist will study plants and other animals in order to understand how everything works together in the giant ecosystem of earth.
Even though mammalogy deals with the study of mammals, there are many subdivisions that encompass a wide variety of other studies too. If a mammalogist specializes in Natural History, then they’ll study how different mammals find food, exploit their habitats, how they reproduce, what other animals eat them for food, what diseases afflict them, and how they live their daily lives.
If one studies taxonomy, then that is the classification of all the different species of mammals into their various families or orders. When you start to examine all of the different species you’ll realize that all rodents are descendants of similar ancestors and each separate rodent is closely related to other rodents as well. Some are distant relatives, like rabbits and mice, but others are more similar, like mice and voles. Everything can be classified and then studied to determine why it developed certain traits. Was it because of the geography, weather, food supply, or predators that certain traits evolved.
Anatomy and physiology are two more subdivisions of mammalogy which study the insides of the various mammals, how they work, how they’re the same or different than other mammals. This is an important part of learning why some mammals only live two years while others live to be 100 years old. It’s only by a constant study that us Humans will eventually learn how to combat diseases, genetic defects, and other causes of early death.
There are hundreds of different occupations that a trained mammalogist can do starting with teaching in universities and colleges. This is where new bright young minds are created and nurtured to become the scientists of the future. Then, many government agencies need the assistance of trained mammalogists to administer regulations in departments like the National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.
Of course, herbicide and insecticide makers have to have plenty of studies done on all of their products to make sure there are no adverse side effects on humans and other mammals. It takes years of study to make sure that each new chemical that is sold has been thoroughly studied on as many species as possible.
Pharmaceutical companies also need to study all of their new drugs for years before release and most of those studies start with small mammals such as mice. Since all mammals have similar physiology, hearts, lungs, livers, and brains, then side effects in mice could indicate potential problems in humans as well.
If you’re just now investigating the field of mammalogy, you can rest assured that there will be plenty of careers in the future. You may not always be called a mammalogist, but the training is valuable in government, education, and industry throughout the world.
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