Why Are Dolphins Classified as Mammals?


Although dolphins swim with the fish, they are classified as mammals, meaning they are vertebrates -- or organisms with a spine -- that belong to the class Mammalia. The bottlenose dolphin, with a sleek, silvery body, is probably most familiar, but the killer whale, or orca, is actually a dolphin, too. Dolphins live in schools of up to 12 members and are viewed as highly intelligent creatures.

Characteristics of All Mammals

  • All mammals are vertebrates and warm-blooded. Mammals give birth to live babies and nurse their young. They breathe air and have some hair on their bodies.

About Dolphins

  • Like any other mammal, dolphins regulate their own body temperature and surface frequently in order to breathe air. A dolphin's blowhole acts like a nose and allows the animal to surface for air. Although they look smooth, dolphins have a small amount of hair around their blowholes. Female dolphins give birth to live young and have mammary glands for lactation.


  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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