Questions related to mammals.

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35
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5answers
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Why don't mammals have more than 4 limbs?

Arthropods have 6 or more limbs and arthropods with 6 limbs appear to move faster than arthropods with 8 limbs so I wonder whether this might have something to do with fast and efficient locomotion. ...
34
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2answers
5k views

Are there any non-mammalian species known that lactate?

Are there any non-mammalian animals that produce milk to feed their young, or are mammals the only milk-producing animals?
17
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2answers
7k views

How and why did mammals go back to the oceans?

If I understand evolutionary biology correctly, mammals first evolved on land as small, rodent-like creatures, in a time when reptiles were dominant on land. Eventually, they diversified into the ...
16
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1answer
5k views

Why can't humans drink sea water?

Why can't humans drink sea water? It would seem to be a huge evolutionary advantage for an animal to be able to drink sea water rather than have to rely on fresh water, and it's provably not ...
16
votes
1answer
174 views

What effect does a bat's echolocation have on other bats?

Bat echolocation is a perceptual system where ultrasonic sounds are emitted specifically to produce echoes. By comparing the outgoing pulse with the returning echoes, the brain and auditory nervous ...
15
votes
1answer
37k views

Can a person really die quickly from biting their tongue?

A common trope in certain circles (like Eastern martial fiction), is someone committing quick suicide by biting his or her tongue. But is this really possible? The internet turns up millions of ...
14
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1answer
2k views

Evolutionarily, why do male rats and horses lack nipples?

Developmentally male rats don't have nipples because (reddit) Testosterone release in the fetal male rat happens before the stage of mammogenesis where the teat is formed whereas other species ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Could a fetus properly develop in micro/zero-gravity?

I suppose another way of looking at the question is: how important is gravity for the development of mammal fetuses? And if things would go wrong, what sort of things would they be, and what would be ...
11
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3answers
1k views

Why is mammal coloration so dull?

I have seen species of birds, insects and fishes with splendid colours. But when it comes to mammals (including us humans), they almost always appear in shades of brown, grey, orange, or in black and ...
9
votes
2answers
67 views

How can bats achieve good resolution with wide beams?

I have been reading about the echolocation system in bats. papers state that bats tend to produce a sonar beam that has a beam angle (-3db) of about 30-40 degrees. This would be considered a wide beam ...
8
votes
2answers
500 views

Why haven't land animals evolved beyond urination?

It occurred to me (while urinating) that this would seem to be selected against because water is a scarce resource. Why are we constantly losing water we don't need to through urination? What is ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Why do rabbits often have white hindquarters?

There are several species of herbivores that have a very visible white hindquarters: several kinds of deer, rabbits, antelopes, etc. Does the white fur serve a functional purpose, or is it purely ...
8
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1answer
98 views

Do camels pose an environmental threat to kangaroos?

Camels, once used for transport across the Australian outback, were set free, and are reproducing at an uncontrolled rate in the empty interior of Australia. Do the ecosystems of camels and ...
8
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1answer
927 views

What hair do aquatic mammals have?

I'm reading an essay on the creating of the Mammalia zoological classification (Londa Schiebinger, The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 2 (Apr., 1993), pp. 382-411). It contains the statement ...
8
votes
1answer
305 views

What species is this mammal?

I saw a mammal that looked like a large squirrel. I haven't seen anything quite like it. Can you help me identify it? Squirrel-like, "hunched over" posture. It was too large to be an eastern ...
7
votes
1answer
115 views

What species of fox is this?

I found this picture of a fox in a news article about arctic foxes in Sweden (source), but I'm not sure whether it is actually an arctic fox. On the one hand, it has white fur, which is the correct ...
7
votes
1answer
383 views

Mammal body density

Human body density is approximately 1 kg/l (same as fresh water) - which is not surprising (at first) given that we are 70% water, and is surprising (on a second thought), given that the other 30% can ...
7
votes
2answers
327 views

Why do squirrels have twitchy bushy tails?

Whenever I see a squirrel in the woods, it is always the big bushy tail flipping around that gets my attention first. A pray animal with a big bushy flag calling attention to it's self seems to be ...
7
votes
2answers
251 views

Why does botulinum toxin seem to be more dangerous to humans than to other mammals?

Various mammals seem to get away with eating parts of carcasses that we would prefer to not even touch, and that we assume will make us sick. Because of that, I assume botulinum toxin is more ...
7
votes
1answer
147 views

Why does snow not stick to the fur of wolves and some breeds of dogs?

This question made me wonder, why for example wolves don't suffer from these "paw snowballs"? (...) but after a few miles on the trails in soft snow, he often develops snowballs between his paw ...
7
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5answers
4k views

Why do most mammals have long snouts?

It seems like most mammals, e.g. dogs, have long snouts. My pet dog's snout would seem to me like an evolutionary disadvantage, since her canine teeth are way out at the end of her jaw, which acts as ...
7
votes
1answer
148 views

Why are recombination rates increasing in mammals?

I have recently become fascinated with an awesome topic in biology and evolution that I feel is rarely covered in biology courses. That is, rates of meiotic recombination, or the the amount that an ...
7
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2answers
2k views

How do marine mammals control buoyancy?

Presumably, as a whale or seal dives, its lungs get compressed by the increasing water pressure, and it gets less buoyant. Under this model, for a given amount of air taken in at the surface, the ...
6
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2answers
579 views

Goats are so fearless but sheep are not. Is there any genetic difference responsible?

As you see in the picture goats (not only wild goats) are so fearless, but I never saw any sheep do this. What is the source of this difference in behavior?
6
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2answers
14k views

Do other male mammals except for humans have nipples?

When I grew rabbits, I had a pair, one male and one female. And while the female's nipples were quite prominent, especially after giving birth, I don't remember the male having any nipples at all. Do ...
6
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3answers
108 views

laboratory mice, nutrition, and humans

It seems that many nutrition experiments [directed at human diet] are carried on laboratory mice. Is there any justification that nutrition that is good or bad for laboratory mice will also be same ...
6
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2answers
199 views

Do omnivore mammals vary food preferences based on dietary needs?

I'm wandering if mammals that can eat many different kinds of food (omnivores) vary their preference for food not only based on the availability, but also based on dietary needs? I'm looking at this ...
6
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1answer
83 views

Can dolphins actually communicate linguistically?

Humans use "language." By language, I mean the thing I am using right now to talk to you. I know dolphins and orcas have very complex communication systems and also seem to process linguistic and ...
6
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1answer
175 views

Is it theoretically possible to restore the Tiger population to 100,000?

The current global Tiger population is roughly 5100 according to Wikipedia. With habitat destruction and poaching continuing and no effective improvement in conservation, most likely the Tiger ...
6
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1answer
84 views

How compatible are mammal wombs?

I had read about science working towards the creation of artificial wombs however I wonder how compatible are mammal wombs and connected systems to develop fetuses. What species are so compatible that ...
5
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1answer
416 views

Do any birds beside the family Columbidae (or any reptile or mammal) feed their young “Crop Milk”

Birds from the family Columbidae (e.g., doves and pigeons) produce a fatty, milk-like substance in their crop. The secretion is often referred to as "crop milk." They feed crop milk to their young ...
5
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1answer
71 views

The ermine's colour and geographical range

Ermines turn white during the winter, with only the tip of the tail remaining black. However, in the southern regions of the ermine's range it clearly doesn't get so white. Encyclopedia of Life says ...
5
votes
1answer
69 views

How do rodenticides with delayed effect work?

Most modern rodenticides are claimed to cause death no earlier than several days after ingestion. That's quite strange - once a chemical was ingested it will be absorbed in the digestive system and ...
5
votes
1answer
196 views

What selective factors drove the evolution of lactose in lactation?

As far as I can determine, lactose, and the monosaccharide galactose have few biological uses outside of mammalian lactation. It not only required enzymes for its production, but enzymes in offspring ...
5
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1answer
62 views

How does the Platypus grow before it eats?

From this fascinating documentary on monotremes it is mentioned that the Platypus is born less than 1 cm in length, but has doubled its size by day three when it begins to nurse. How does the animal ...
5
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1answer
216 views

Why was polyploidy not lethal in certain octodontid rodents?

As discussed in Why is polyploidy lethal for some organisms while for others is not?, polyploidy is normally lethal in mammals. However, two species of Octodontidae (South American rodents), are ...
5
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0answers
51 views

What is the reason for fear induced defecation?

I started to handle mice for my job and noticed that they tend to defecate and/or urinate when they are scared. The fear is induced by me, because I need a long time (due to inexperience) to grab the ...
5
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0answers
97 views

Why do mammals produce more carbon dioxide than insects?

I understand that mammals produce more carbon dioxide than insects on a gram per gram basis, but why is that? I'm thinking it might be because mammals are warm-blooded, which require more energy ...
4
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2answers
3k views

The number of nipples (breasts) a species has?

Only mammals have mammaries and mammary glands. What evolutionary factors determines the number of mammaries (nipples/teats/breasts) a species has? Is it always an even number?
4
votes
1answer
721 views

Why do sloths come down from the trees to defecate?

I'm under the impression that most sloths exhibit this behavior, but why? They are slow moving and so have no way of escaping from predators when on the ground. Not to mention the energy they expire ...
4
votes
1answer
211 views

How do Kangaroo mothers deliver the correct kind of milk to the correct joey?

Mother kangaroos are able to rear multiple joeys (young kangaroos) at different stages of development at the same time. According to Wikipedia, "the mother is able to produce two different kinds of ...
4
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1answer
77 views

Identification of a small mammal

Could someone help with identification of this small mammal? Is it a possum? A dormouse? It was photographed in Sukhumi botanical garden, in Abkhazia (west of Georgia, on the shores of the black ...
4
votes
1answer
280 views

How are blood vessels affected by UV and infrared radiation?

The lining of the blood vessel as an interface and boundary layer is of existential necessity to the life-support of mammals. My question is: How are major blood vessels and the blood vessel lining ...
3
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1answer
238 views

Are the byproducts of mammalian digestion simply depleted versions of the food or liquid consumed?

When mammals consume food and digest it or drink fluids that are then filtered by their kidneys, are the waste products generated simply depleted versions of what they consumed? Are there other ...
3
votes
1answer
94 views

Why do surface mole tunnels follow directly below the electric fenceline

I have electric fencing enclosing five acres, and moles always seem to tunnel in a straight line just under the electric fence - are they following a force field? Can that be?
3
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2answers
663 views

What is the fastest marine mammal?

When I did a research, most of the sources say that orca is one of the fastest. But I could not find a source that says it is actually the fastest. Some sources say that Dall's porpoises rival orcas ...
3
votes
2answers
611 views

How do bats distinguish between day and night?

How do bats distinguish between day and night? Do they hunt at night - if yes, how they know that? Are they afraid of sunlight?
3
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1answer
73 views

Mammal vs Placental Mammal

So for Google Earth Day's quiz I ended up being a "Pangolin." Turns out I had no idea what it was so I looked into it and honestly it reminded me a lot of an Armadillo. So I decided to find out the ...
3
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1answer
213 views

Do mammals and birds have a common warm-blooded ancestor?

Is it homogeneous or did they converge? Did we both evolve from warm-blooded reptiles that are extinct maybe?
3
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2answers
117 views

Do dolphins really sleep?

I have always wondered, if dolphins sleep with one eye opened, do they really sleep at all? According to this article dolphins indeed shut down their brains. I already googled it. No help from ...