Map of the Exhibition
Living and fossil mammals exhibit a huge range of shapes and sizes.
2. What is a Mammal?
Mammals are defined by common ancestry, not by physical characteristics—although inherited traits do help us recognize relationships between mammals.
3. What is Extreme?
"Extreme" traits differ widely from those found in ancestors, or from the most common, typical, or "normal" form at any moment in time. Most mammals possess a combination of extreme and normal features.
4. Head to Tail: Heads
Mammalian bodies have been modified by evolution. Some of these changes are found in the head.
5. Head to Tail: Reproduction
Reproduction is one of the main features that differentiates the three living groups of mammals: placentals, marsupials, and monotremes.
6. Head to Tail: Bodies
All mammals share a common body plan, but evolution has resulted in astonishing variations on the arrangement of bones, muscles, and skin.
7. Mammals in Motion
Ancestral mammals lived on land. Some groups of mammals later adapted to move through other environments like the open skies and the deep sea.
8. Extreme Climates
Environments change with time, and so do the mammals that inhabit them.
9. Extreme Isolation
When mammals are geographically isolated, they can evolve extreme traits or can come to resemble unrelated species elsewhere.
10. Extreme Extinction
Although sometimes rapid, and affecting vast numbers of species, extinctions are part of the history of life. One mammal, Homo sapiens, is contributing to what may become the next mass extinction (the "Sixth Extinction").
for a printable version of this map (pdf)