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 Herdwick is a traditional breed of domestic sheep native to the mountainous Lake District of Cumbria in North West England. The name "Herdwick" is derived from the Old Norseherdvyck, meaning sheep pasture. Though low in lambing capacity and wool quality when compared to more common commercial breeds such as Merino sheep, Herdwicks are prized for their robust health, their ability to live solely on forage, and their tendency not to stray over the difficult upland terrain of the Lake District. An integral part of the cultural identity of the Lake District, the breed is for the most part found in the central and western dales of the region. Severely threatened by the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in England and Wales, the breed has survived due to the intent to preserve this unique animal as a crucial part of traditional Lakeland agriculture. Still far less in number than most commercial breeds, Herdwicks survive largely due to farming subsidies and the aid of the British National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty.
...that Scarlett the cat is a former stray cat whose efforts to save her kittens from a fire, at serious harm to herself, attracted worldwide media attention and has been related in a number of nonfiction books?
A female cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) on the Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Cheetahs accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) in less than 3 seconds and average 40 mph (64 km/h) during a chase. The species is classified as vulnerable, with only 7,000 left in the wild.
The eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus, native to the eastern and midwestern United States, as well as to the southerly portions of the eastern provinces of Canada. A prolific and adaptable species, it has been introduced to and thrives in several regions of the western United States; it is also an invasive species in Britain, where it has spread across the country and largely displaced the native Eurasian red squirrel. The head and body can measure from 23 to 30 cm (9.1 to 11.8 in) and the tail from 19 to 25 cm (7.5 to 9.8 in) in length; its adult weight is between 400 and 600 g (14 and 21 oz). Like many members of the family Sciuridae, the eastern gray squirrel is a scatter-hoarder; it hoards food in numerous small caches for later recovery. In the United Kingdom and Canada, the species is simply referred to as the "grey squirrel".
This picture, taken in 2010, shows an eastern gray squirrel in Florida.
The Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a widespread, medium-sized, omnivorousmammal of North America. It has black facial colorings around the eyes, and has a bushy tail with light and dark alternating rings. The coat is a mixture of gray, brown, and black fur. The characteristic eye colorings make the animal look like it is wearing a "bandit's mask," which has enhanced the animal's reputation for mischief, vandalism, and thievery.
The kob (Kobus kob) is an antelope found across Central Africa and parts of West Africa and East Africa. It is closely related to the reedbucks and waterbucks and similar in appearance to the impala but more heavily built. Kob have few strong social bonds, but females can live in herds numbering in the thousands. Males are generally territorial, although on densely-populated floodplains some males live in clustered territories known as leks.
The Cape ground squirrel (Xerus inauris) is a medium-sized rodent native to South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. They live in social groups of up to three adult females and several sub-adults. The species mainly inhabits arid or semi-arid areas, preferring velds and grasslands with compact soil, and can also be found in scrub, on floodplains and in agricultural areas. Males live independently, only joining groups when there is a female in estrus. Ever alert to danger, they can drive off predators such as snakes by engaging in mobbing behavior.
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 southern plains gray langur (Semnopithecus dussumieri) is a species of Old World monkey native to the Indian subcontinent. It is about 62 cm (24 in) tall and lives in groups in various forest habitats, feeding mainly on leaves, fruit and flowers in the canopy, supplementing these with insects, gum, grasses, herbs and roots. The monkeys are considered sacred in India, and some are used by Hindu priests for religious purposes. They have adapted to living in close proximity to humans in urban settings; they are often fed by humans and accept cakes, millet, and other foods. The species is protected by law in India, but some are still persecuted for damaging crops, hunted for food and captured for pets.
A cast of the extinct hominid species Sahelanthropus tchadensisholotype cranium, dubbed "Toumaï", in facio-lateral view. The original cranial fragment is dated to about 7 million years ago and was discovered in Chad. Other than Toumaï, the only Sahelanthropus remains to be discovered are five pieces of jaw and some teeth.
The term African elephant refers to elephants of the genus Loxodonta. Shown here is the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), one of two extant species and the largest living terrestrial animal, with males standing 3.2–4.0 m (10.5–13.1 ft) tall at the shoulder and weighing 4,700–6,048 kg (10,362–13,334 lb).
A black-tailed prairie dog at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., looks out from a system of burrows, characteristically scanning the horizon. On average, these rodents grow to between 12 and 16 inches (30 and 40 cm) long, including their short tails.