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Welcome to Mammalogy on the Web


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Mammalogy is the study of mammals. Use these pages as a reference or as an on-line course of instruction. Enjoy!


Mammalogy on the Web is an offering of the Centennial Museum and Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Texas at El Paso. These pages may be used as an on-line, self-study course or as a general reference to those most fascinating of all animals, the mammals. Sorry, no academic credit: only the satisfaction of learning or of locating something that's been bugging you. I am assuming no background in mammalogy and only a general understanding of basic biological principles. Objectives of the course include command of mammalian systematics, general characteristics of mammals, methods of study, various adaptations (morphological, behavioral, and physiological), and some biogeography. Much of this will be accomplished during a survey of the various groups of mammals.

The course is somewhat limited geographically by a regional emphasis: New Mexico, Trans-Pecos Texas, and southeastern Arizona in the U.S.A and northern Chihuahua in Mexico. Essentially, we are looking at the Chihuahuan Desert Region plus the nearby highland faunas of New Mexico. Although familiarity with the major groups of mammals worldwide will be an aim of the site, most emphasis will be on recognition, ecology, distribution, etc., of species within this region. The Centennial Museum has extensive material on the web for those of you unfamiliar with the Chihuahuan Desert.

Unfortunately, laboratory learning does not translate well to web learning since it depends heavily on access to specimens and hands-on learning. However, an effort is made to at least partially fulfill the aims of the laboratory portion by text and images. Scroll down the menu to get to the laboratory material, including keys for identification.

The material on this site originally was put together as a basic framework for a graduate course in Mammalogy. It has been modified for a general internet audience, and general expansion of material will be on-going. Courses that limit access to a few students are able to use copyrighted material under the doctrine of "fair use". The current version, being open to the entire World Wide Web, is necessarily more limited and depends predominantly on materials produced by myself and on links to other websites. Especially useful websites are the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology's Animal Diversity Web, the New Mexico Game & Fish Department's BISON-M (Biota Information System of New Mexico), and the Mammals of Texas Online Edition. The Centennial Museum's Chihuahuan Desert site also has range maps and photographs for many regional mammals.

Viewers are welcome to ask questions concerning the material on the site by e-mail: my e-mail address is aharris@utep.edu. You may well encounter errors that have crept into the course material. Please use e-mail to bring them to my attention. I have used modifications of a few copyrighted items; if there are objections to this usage by the copyright holder, please e-mail me and the offending material will be removed.

Few university courses can even begin to give complete knowledge of a subject. The usual aim is to give a firm foundation upon which interested individuals may continue to build throughout life. In active fields of science, much of the building rests on an appreciation of the scientific literature, and so some introduction to the mammalogical literature is included here. As one example, the American Society of Mammalogists has, as of August 2007, 761 numbers of Mammalian Species online for free downloading. Each number assembles pertinent data on a single species, including references, giving an invaluable asset for further study.

I have made some conventions for ease of use. Links in green are to definitions in the Glossary; links in gray are to other items on the Mammalogy Website. Visited on-site links are indicated by a lighter shade of green or gray. Standard link colors (blue for unvisited and red for visited, assuming you have not changed these on your browser) lead off-site.

The publication of Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level (McKenna and Bell 1997) was expected at the time to become the standard taxonomic work. Their taxonomic arrangement is radically different from "traditional" organization, and at some time it may become necessary to learn it. However, since I've seen no rush to adopt it, we'll pretty much stick to the traditional. With a few exceptions, the taxonomy of the lower taxa follows Wilson and Reeder (2005).

Study of any biological group requires some knowledge of the mechanics of systematics. The linked pages give a brief overview and should be considered early on.

Classification is the foundation that allows us to organize learning. To appreciate the relationships of the various mammalian groups that we'll be looking at, you should get the higher classification down as soon as possible and, as we hit various groups, get up to speed on their classifications quickly. The order of presentation of mammalian taxa follows the order of taxa in the three tables of classification (classification 1, classification 2, and classification 3). These include major groups and other taxa down to those species within the region.

The subjects covered will be in the order of the menu at the top of the pages except for such general items as classification. Although some items might seem to better fit into the laboratory section (e.g., skull features), some of the terminology is used rather early in the lecture and it seems best to introduce it early on.

This is a work in progress. Many of the sections on individual taxa will be enlarged through time. "Last Update" data are given near the bottom of most pages; if revisiting, it's a good idea to see if the page has been updated recently.

Printing Hints

For best results in printing out pages from the site, select "only this frame" for printing (in Firefox, right click and choose "This frame"; then choose "Show only this frame"; in Internet Explorer, right click and then click on "Print preview"; from the top bar, choose "Only the selected frame" [probably hidden under "As laid out on screen"]).


Last Update: 8 Feb 2008

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Centennial Museum and Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at El Paso