Information About Animals

The world would be a much quieter place without animals. But we wouldn't know that, since we wouldn't be around. Yes, humans are animals, too. In addition to man, animals include everything from tadpoles to tree monkeys with javelina and the jackal in between. One way to help understand animals is to break them down into their respective categories.

  1. Mammals

    • Mammals are some of the cuddliest creatures, since a lot of them have fur and all of them are warm-blooded. This extensive category includes dogs, cats, rats, apes, rabbits, kangaroo and man. Other marks of a mammal are its ability to give birth to live young and the mother's ability to produce milk to nurse those young. In fact, the word "mammal" comes from the Latin "mamma," which means breasts.


    • Frogs, salamanders, newts and toads all skitter and hop along as amphibians. The amphibians' claim to fame is their ability to live both in and out of water. Most start out with gills that evolve into lungs as they develop, such as the frog, which begins life as a tadpole. These cold-blooded, egg-laying creatures are also noted as being the first animals to leave the sea and live on land, opening up a whole new world.


    • Snakes are some of the most famous reptiles, but the group also includes lizards, crocodiles and turtles. Most of these guys live on land and lay eggs, although some, like the rattlesnake, may birth live young. Reptiles have been around for more than 300 million years and were once king of the land in the form of dinosaurs. Reptiles are covered in thick scales, a far cry from a cuddly mammal's fur.


    • Fun, fluttery and full of song, birds are some of the most fascinating creatures to watch and track. They range in size from the teeny hummingbird to the massive ostrich and in colors from the blazing blue macaw to the drab brown duck. All lay eggs to produce their young and some, like the ostrich, can feed a whole family of six breakfast with its single egg. Even though all birds have feathers, an anomaly among other animals, not all of them can fly. One will never see the ostrich or penguin soaring above a rooftop.


    • The forerunner to the amphibian, fish are the oldest creatures in the world. They have been around for more than 500 million years and breathe through gills that extract oxygen from the water. Most lay eggs and most have a bony skeleton, although sharks and sting rays have skeletons made up of cartilage. Just because an animal looks like a fish and lives in the water doesn't mean its fish. Dolphins and whales, for instance, do not have gills, bear live young and are warm blooded. This puts them into the mammal category although they, too, are a far cry from a cuddly kitty.

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  • Photo Credit Photo by Ryn Gargulinski

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