Weird Mammals and Their Characteristics

I’m taking a break from all that medicine-related mumbo-jumbo to talk about some weird stuff (again). I’m sure you all know what mammals are. Usually, members of a certain “class” of animals have things in common like egg-laying for birds or live birth for mammals. There are however some characteristics of some of the members that make them stand out. Here are some strange mammals and what makes them so.

Sloths – Sloths have a flat head, big eyes, a short snout, and tiny ears. They also have long legs and a stubby tail. But what makes them different from other mammals? Most mammals have seven cervical vertebrae. Two-toes sloths only have six and three-toes sloths have nine. What also makes them weird is their physical capabilities and behavior in general. Sloths can only move one and a half meter every 5 minutes. How slow is that? Also, they spend most of their lives hanging on a branch sleeping for 15-18 hours (although later studies say that they only sleep for around 10 or so hours). They go down only once a week to urinate and other “calls of nature”. Their young also cling to the mother’s fur but often fall off. The good thing is, they are rather tough and don’t die from falls. However, if a predator is waiting below, then there’s a good chance that the young will get eaten.

Platypus – The platypus is one strange creature. It is the only mammal that has webbed feet and a rubber snout which makes it look closer to a duck than anything than anything else. The webbed feet is folded back when walking on land and is more prominent on its front feet. Its jaw is also different from most mammals along with its jaw muscles. It’s movement is also different as its body is like a reptile that has the legs on the sides rather than underneath.

Bats – Bats are the only flight capable mammals with the forelimbs developed in to wings rather than legs or arms. They are similar to rodents so they are often called “flying mice”. They have poorly developed sight and track prey using a process called echolocation. Basically, they emit high-pitched sounds and listen to the echoes similar to the technology used in submarines. They use sonar to locate their prey instead of by locating them visually.

Armadillos – Armadillo is Spanish for “little armored one”. True to its name, the armadillo is a mammal with a bony armor shell which it uses for defense against predators. They are good diggers and use their sharp claws to dig for food and create dens. Like bats, they have poor vision. Their armor is formed by plates of dermal bone covered in relatively small, overlapping epidermal scales called scutes, which is composed of bone with a covering of horn. They have rigid shields over the shoulders and hips, with a number of bands separated by flexible skin covering the back and flanks.The armor covers the top of the head, the upper parts of the limbs, and the tail.

Whales – When I was younger, I thought dolphins and whales were fishes. They don’t have gills and breathe through their lungs which make them different from fishes. Although they look like fishes with flippers and tail fins, they have mammary glands (which makes them mammals) which they use to feed their young with milk. It is believed that whales, along with dolphins and porpoises, are descendants of land-walkers. Although it may be hard to believe, this weird mammal have been discovered to have hind-leg bones which serve no purpose and serve as an object of curiosity among scientists, making many believe that they have evolved from land-living mammals or would evolve into one. It would be scary to imagine whales walking on land though.

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~ by varunsharma1800 on October 16, 2008.

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