DescriptionMammals are vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia, and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding their young, a neocortex, fur or hair, and three middle ear bones. Wikipedia
Mammals (from Latin mamma "breast") are vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia (//), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females (and sometimes males) produce milk for feeding (nursing) their young, a neocortex (a region of the brain), fur or hair, and three middle ear bones. These characteristics distinguish them from reptiles and birds, from which they diverged in the late Triassic, 201–227 million years ago. There are around 5,450 species of mammals. The largest orders are the rodents, bats and Soricomorpha (shrews and others). The next three are the Primates (apes, monkeys, and others), the Cetartiodactyla (cetaceans and even-toed ungulates), and the Carnivora (cats, dogs, seals, and others).
In cladistics, which reflect evolution, mammals—along with dinosaurs, and by extension, birds—are classified as endothermic amniotes. This trait evolved separately in both cases and is an example of convergent evolution. Mammals are the only living members of the clade Synapsida, which together with Sauropsida (reptiles and birds) form the Amniota clade. The early synapsid mammalian ancestors were sphenacodont pelycosaurs, a group that produced the non-mammalian Dimetrodon. At the end of the Carboniferous period around 300 million years ago, this group diverged from the sauropsid line that led to today's reptiles and birds. The line following the stem group Sphenacodontia split into several diverse groups of non-mammalian synapsids—sometimes incorrectly referred to as mammal-like reptiles—before giving rise to Therapsida in the Early Permian period. 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.