Simon and Schuster Guide to Mammals

Simon and Schuster Guide to Mammals

by Luigi Boitani
     
 

As mammals ourselves, we have always been fascinated with this most advanced class of animals, and Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals describes 426 species worldwide. A long and thoughtful introduction to the evolution, characteristics, and orders of mammals is followed by the entries — all illustrated in full color — each containing the mammal's

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Overview

As mammals ourselves, we have always been fascinated with this most advanced class of animals, and Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals describes 426 species worldwide. A long and thoughtful introduction to the evolution, characteristics, and orders of mammals is followed by the entries — all illustrated in full color — each containing the mammal's classification, description, and habitat as well as details on behavior, feeding habits, and reproduction. The entries also feature colorful symbols to illustrate habitat, color maps to show the distribution and rarity of each species, and line drawings to indicate unusual or notable physical features.
With more than 500 color photographs, Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals is a superb and valuable reference.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780671428051
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
01/28/1984
Pages:
511
Product dimensions:
4.68(w) x 7.49(h) x 1.04(d)

Related Subjects

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Chapter 1

1 TACHYGLOSSUS ACULEATUS

Echidna, spiny anteater

Classification Order Monotremata, Family Tachyglossidae.

Description A heavy, round-bodied animal; covered with short, pointed spines mixed with coarse hairs except on underparts; small tail; long, narrow beak with tiny, toothless mouth; 5 toes on each foot with strong, broad claws and long, curved claw on second toe of hind feet. Males about 35-45 cm (13.5-17.5 in) in length, weight 3-6 kg (6.5-14.5 lb); females somewhat smaller.

Distribution Throughout Australia including Tasmania, and in southern New Guinea.

Habitat Virtually all terrestrial situations.

Behavior The crepuscular and nocturnal echidna digs out ants and termites which adhere to its long sticky tongue. It has a keen sense of smell and good hearing, but weak vision. Its long hind claw is used to clean between its spines. The echidna shelters among rocks or in hollow logs rather than digging tunnels, but quickly burrows straight down into the soil to escape enemies or rolls into a prickly ball for protection. It can fast for long periods. Usually 1 (rarely 2 or 3) egg is laid and incubated for 10 days in a temporary pouch on the female's abdomen, where the naked young remains until its spines begin to appear. The mother then deposits it in a sheltered place, returning daily for about 3 months to suckle it until it is weaned.

2 ORNITHORHYNCHUS ANATINUS

Platypus, duckbill

Classification Order Monotremata, Family Ornithorhynchidae.

Description Long, flat-bodied animal covered with short, velvety brown fur; muzzle is a flexible, leathery, ducklike bill; short, wide tail; webbed feet, male with poisonous spur on hind feet. Males about 61 cm (24 in) total length, weight 2 kg (4.4 lb); females about 46 cm (18 in).

Distribution Eastern Australia including Tasmania.

Habitat Freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes.

Behavior The crepuscular platypus is aquatic and burrows extensively into riverbanks, usually leaving an entrance below water and another above. It subsists on small aquatic animals, vertebrate and invertebrate, taken from the muddy stream bottom. The food is located by touch with the sensitive bill and collected in cheek pouches, wherein sand and grit probably help mastication as the adult platypus has no teeth; food is also crushed between horny plates inside the bill. A platypus stays submerged for about 1 minute with eyes and ears closed. From 1-3, usually 2, small eggs are laid from annual breeding, August-October, and incubated by the mother in a grass-and-leaf nest in the burrow for 12-14 days. Young platypuses leave the burrow and swim at 1 7 weeks of age. The venomous spur on the male's hind feet may be used for defense and helps in the capture of prey such as frogs.

3 MARMOSA MURINA

Mouse opossum, murine opossum

Classification Order Marsupialia, Family Didelphidae.

Description Mouselike creature with rather pointed muzzle; long, hairless, prehensile tail; thin, moderate-sized, naked ears. Dense, lax fur of brown to cinnamon color dorsally, buff on underparts, and pronounced black patch surrounding the large eyes. Head and body length 10-22 cm (about 4-8 in); weight about 250 g (0.6 lb).

f0 Distribution Amazon and Orinoco River basins and adjacent lower parts of the Andes.

Habitat Principally tropical rain forest.

Behavior The murine opossum is one of 41 recognized species of mouse opossums widespread from southern Mexico to Patagonia. This species is solitary, nocturnal, and arboreal in habit. Its opposable hallux and prehensile tail help it to grasp small twigs and vines while climbing. Daytime hours are spent sleeping in an abandoned bird's nest or a tree hollow. Murine opossums eat fruit and insects. Although a true marsupial, the female has no pouch. The offspring, 5 or more in a litter, each cling to a teat or, when older, hold fast to the fur of their mother's back. Murine opossums breed throughout the year and have a gestation period of about 14 days.

4 DIDELPHIS VIRGINIANA

Virginia opossum

Classification Order Marsupialia, Family Didelphidae.

Description About house-cat size with short legs; opposable, clawless hallux; long, flattened, pointed muzzle; small, thin, hairless ears; long, nearly naked, scaly, prehensile tail. Pelage is long, gray or brown, with numerous white guard hairs throughout. Head and body length 38-51 cm (15-20 in), weight 4-6 kg (9-13 lb); females smaller than males.

Distribution United States east of the Rocky Mountains, through Mexico and Central America to Costa Rica; introduced and well established in Pacific coastal North America from San Diego, California, to Crescent Beach, British Columbia.

Habitat Virtually all situations; prefers wooded areas.

Behavior The only marsupial species found in the United States, and still hunted for its meat and fur, the Virginia opossum is solitary and nocturnal in habit. It is both arboreal and terrestrial, and builds its nest of leaves in tree hollows. Its omnivorous diet includes fruit, insects, eggs, small vertebrates. Individuals in the northern reaches of its range often lose portions of tail and ears to frostbite. When pursued, the opossum can feign death; that is, "play 'possum." Females have a well-developed pouch and produce an average of 7 young per litter, once or twice a year. Gestation is 12-13 days; young are weaned at 100-101 days of age and carried on their mother's back.

5 CHIRONECTES MINIMUS

Yapok, water opossum

Classification Order Marsupialia, Family Didelphidae.

Description A long-legged opossum with relatively broad muzzle; long, almost hairless, scaly tail except at its base; a modified wrist bone simulating a sixth digit on the forefeet, webbed hind feet. Short, dense fur with round black patches on back and head, contrasting with gray; white beneath. Head and body about 28 cm (11 in) long; weight 610-790 g (1.3-1.7 lb).

Distribution Southern Mexico to northern Argentina.

Habitat Freshwater rivers and lakes.

Behavior Known from lowland rivers to mountain streams of at least 6000 feet elevation in the eastern Andes, the yapok is the only truly aquatic marsupial. It burrows into stream banks, leaving an entrance just above water level, and with a nesting chamber dug at the end of a descending tunnel. It may also have a nest of leaves or grass on the ground surface for an occasional daytime retreat. An expert swimmer and diver, it eats crustaceans, fish, and other small aquatic animals, and is nocturnal in habit. The female's pouch can be closed by a sphincter muscle surrounding its edge, rendering it waterproof for the young carried inside while the mother swims. The male yapok has a ventral pouch protecting the scrotum. An average of 2 or 3 young are born in December-January.

6 ANTECHINUS FLAVIPES

Yellow-footed antechinus, mardo

Classification Order Marsupialia, Family Dasyuridae.

Description A marsupial the size of a large mouse with pointed muzzle; short-haired, moderately long tail; short, broad feet of buff to yellow-brown color. Fur on back and sides red-brown, with gray hairs on head. Head and body length about 10-13 cm (4-5.2 in); weight about 30 g (1 oz).

Distribution Eastern, southeastern, and southwestern Australia.

Habitat Rain forest, eucalypt forests, and woodlands.

Behavior These semi-arboreal, primitive little marsupials live in hollow trees, fallen logs, and rock crevices, and particularly favor sandstone caves. Active at night, the antechinus feeds upon insects and small vertebrates. It is a common form throughout most of its range, though rarely seen, and is preyed upon by owls, snakes, and the larger carnivorous members of its own family. During the breeding season the antechinus builds an intricately woven nest of eucalypt leaves. Annual mating occurs in the winter, July-September, with a gestation period of 23-27 days, after which 10-12 minute young are born and attach themselves to the mother's teats. There is no pouch in this species, but the area around the teats is surrounded by a slightly raised edge. Among the 12 species of Antechinus related to A. flavipes, the pouch may be completely absent, partially or well developed.

Copyright © 1982 by Arnoldo Mondadori Editors S.p.A., Milan

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