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Mammals are any vertebrates within the class Mammalia (/m

meli./ from Latin mamma "breast"), a clade of endothermicamniotes distinguished


from reptiles and birds by the possession of a neocortex (a region of the brain), hair,
three middle ear bones and mammary glands. The sister group of Mammals may be the
extinct Haldanodon. The Mammals represent the only living Synapsida, which together with
the Sauropsida form the Amniota clade. The Mammals consist of
the Australosphenidaincluding monotrema and the theria.
Mammals include the largest animals on the planet, the great whales, as well as some of
the most intelligent, such as elephants, primates and cetaceans. The basic body type is a
terrestrial quadruped, but some mammals are adapted for life at sea, in the air, in
trees, underground or on two legs. The largest group of mammals, the placentals, have
a placenta, which enables the feeding of the fetus during gestation. Mammals range in size
from the 3040 mm (1.21.6 in) bumblebee bat to the 30-meter (98 ft) blue whale. With the
exception of the five species of monotreme (egg-laying mammals), all modern mammals
give birth to live young. Most mammals, including the six most species-rich orders, belong
to the placental group. The three largest orders in number of species
are Rodentia: mice, rats, porcupines, beavers, capybaras and other gnawing
mammals; Chiroptera: bats; and Soricomorpha: shrews, moles and solenodons. The next
three biggest orders, depending on the biological classification scheme used, are
the Primates including the great apes and monkeys;
the Cetartiodactyla including whales and even-toed ungulates; and the Carnivora which
includes cats, dogs, weasels, bears and seals.
The word "mammal" is modern, from the scientific name Mammalia, coined by Carl
Linnaeus in 1758, derived from the Latinmamma ("teat, pap"). All female mammals nurse
their young with milk, secreted from the mammary glands. According to Mammal Species
of the World, 5,416 species were known in 2006. These were grouped in 1,229 genera,
153 families and 29 orders. In 2008 the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN) completed a five-year, 1,700-scientist Global Mammal Assessment for
its IUCN Red List, which counted 5,488 species. In some classifications, extant mammals
are divided into two subclasses: the Prototheria, that is, the order Monotremata; and
the Theria, or the infraclasses Metatheria and Eutheria. The marsupials constitute
the crown group of the Metatheria, and include all living metatherians as well as many
extinct ones; the placentals are the crown group of the Eutheria. While mammal
classification at the family level has been relatively stable, several contending
classifications regarding the higher levelssubclass, infraclass and order, especially of the
marsupialsappear in contemporaneous literature. Much of the changes reflect the
advances of cladistic analysis and molecular genetics. Findings from molecular genetics,
for example, have prompted adopting new groups, such as the Afrotheria, and abandoning
traditional groups, such as the Insectivora. The early synapsid mammalian ancestors
were sphenacodont pelycosaurs, a group that produced the non-mammalian Dimetrodon.
At the end of the Carboniferous period, this group diverged from the sauropsid line that led
to today's reptiles and birds. The line following the stem group Sphenacodontia split-off
several diverse groups of non-mammalian synapsidssometimes referred to as mammallike reptilesbefore giving rise to the proto-mammals (Therapsida) in the
early Mesozoic era. The modern mammalian orders arose in
the Paleogene and Neogene periods of the Cenozoic era, after the extinction of non-avian

dinosaurs, and have been among the dominant terrestrial animal groups from 66 million
years ago to the present.
In human culture, domesticated mammals played a major role in the Neolithic revolution,
causing farming to replace hunting and gathering, and leading to a major restructuring of
human societies with the first civilizations. They provided, and continue to provide, power
for transport and agriculture, as well as various commodities such as meat, dairy
products, wool, and leather. Mammals are hunted or raced for sport, and are used
as model organisms in science. Mammals have been depicted
in art since Palaeolithic times, and appear in literature, film, mythology, and religion.