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In terms of cladistics, which reflects evolutionary history, mammals are the only living members of the Synapsida; this clade, together with Sauropsida (reptiles and birds), constitutes the larger Amniota clade. The early synapsid mammalian ancestors were sphenacodontpelycosaurs, a group that included 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. Mammals originated from cynodonts, an advanced group of therapsids, during the Late Triassic. 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 the dominant terrestrial animal group from 66 million years ago to the present.
The cougar (Puma concolor), also puma, mountain lion, or panther, is a mammal of the Felidae family, native to the Americas. This large, solitary cat has the greatest range of any wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, extending from Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes of South America. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in every major New Worldhabitat type. It is the second heaviest cat in the New World, after the jaguar, and the fourth heaviest in the world, after the tiger, lion, and jaguar, although it is most closely related to smaller felines. A capable stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses, and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range, but it hunts species as small as insects and rodents. It prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but it can live in open areas. Cougars are known to kill at least one deer sized animal per week, more in warmer climates; unlike bears, they do not like spoiled meat. The cougar is territorial and persists at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey. While it is a large predator, it is not always the dominant species in its range, as when it competes for prey with animals such as the gray wolf, black bear, and the grizzly bear. It is a reclusive cat and usually avoids people. Attacks on humans remain rare, despite a recent increase in frequency.
The skull of the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), a large African bovine. It has a long but stocky body and short but thickset legs, resulting in a relatively short standing height. The adult bull's horns, as shown here, have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield known as a "boss".
The common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is one of three species of wombat. It is native to south-eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania, and grows to an average of 98 cm (39 in) long and a weight of 26 kg (57 lb). It is solitary and lives in an underground burrow.
A female koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), an arborealherbivorousmarsupial native to coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia. The word "koala" comes from the Dharuk word gula. English-speaking settlers from the late 18th century first called it "koala bear" due to its similarity in appearance to bears, although they are not at all related. Instead, its closest living relative is the wombat.
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a hypercarnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. A boar (adult male) weighs around 350-750 kilograms (770-1,650 lb), while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. Polar bears are the largest land carnivores currently in existence, rivalled only by the omnivorous Kodiak bear. Although it is the sister species of the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice and open water, as well as for hunting seals, which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time on sea ice. The species's scientific name, which is derived from this fact, means 'maritime bear'. Because of their dependence on sea ice, polar bears are categorized as marine mammals. Due to expected habitat loss caused by global warming, the polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species. For decades, large-scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species, but populations have rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect.
A tabby is any cat that has a distinctive coat that features stripes, dots, lines or swirling patterns, usually together with a mark resembling an "M" on its forehead. Tabbies are not a cat breed, but a coat pattern found in many breeds of cat, as well as among the general mixed-breed population. The tabby pattern may be related to the coloration of the domestic cat's direct ancestor, the African Wildcat, which (along with the European Wildcat and Asiatic Wildcat) has a similar coloration. There are four genetically distinct tabby patterns: mackerel (shown here), classic, spotted, and ticked.
A portrait of an African elephant, highlighting its trunk. The trunk, which contains some 150,000 muscle fascicles, is a fusion of the nose and upper lip with a unique nerve running along both sides. An elephant can use its trunk for power functions, such as lifting up to 350 kg (770 lb), or more delicate functions, such as wiping its eye.
A Braunviehcow wearing a cow bell below Fuorcla Sesvenna in the Engadin, Switzerland. Of Swiss origin, these cows were imported to the United States in the 19th century where they became the origin of the modern Brown Swiss cattle breed. Since the 1960s, Brown Swiss cattle have been crossed back into the Braunvieh stock of Europe. They are commonly various shades of brown in colour with lighter points.
The Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), native to southern and eastern Australia, is the most commonly encountered kangaroo species, as it can be found in and around the major cities within its range. Although males can typically reach a height of 2 metres (6.6 ft) and weigh around 66 kilograms (146 lb), and the scientific name translates to "gigantic large-foot", the Red Kangaroo is actually larger.
Sheep are quadrupedalruminants, typically kept as livestock. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it generally refers to Ovis aries. One of the first animals to be domesticated, sheep are likely descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia. They are raised for their fleece, meat, and milk.