Mammalogy by Terry A. Vaughan, James M. Ryan, Nicholas J. Czaplewski

By Terry A. Vaughan, James M. Ryan, Nicholas J. Czaplewski

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The species is the basic unit of classification. ” Each species is generally separated from all other species by a “reproductive gap,” but within each species, there is the possibility for gene exchange. ” The hierarchy of classification, based on the starting point of the species, has been developed to express degrees of phylogenetic relationship among species and groups of species. The taxonomic scheme includes a series of categories, each category more inclusive than the one below it. Using our example of the hares, many long-legged species are included in Lepus.

Because we human primates are mammals, we are fascinated by our relatives. Mammals are beautiful and fascinating creatures that show physiological, structural, and behavioral adaptations to an amazing array of lifestyles. Thus, living mammals in their natural settings are the focal point of interest. The adaptations themselves, how they evolve, how they enable mammals efficiently to exploit demanding environmental conditions, and the interaction between mammals and their environment are all fascinating lines of inquiry.

After the first vertebrates invaded land, the group known as amphibians remained (and remain) obliged to return to water to reproduce, but a sister group to the amphibians, the Amniota, developed adaptations that allowed reproduction on dry land, including the amniotic or cleidoic egg. This type of egg can be laid on dry land and is characterized by a semipermeable shell and several extraembryonic membranes. It is capable of gas exchange with the environment, contains food in the form of yolk to nourish the embryo, and stores waste products produced by the embryo until hatching.

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