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Archive - September 2022

“Order” is placed between the “class” and “family” classification categories. Organisms in an “order” have more characteristics in common than they do with the rest of the organisms in their “class.”

We will continue in Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata and Class Mammalia to show how this class is split into orders.

Recent taxonomic work shows that the Class Mammalia, the mammals, contains 27 orders, eight of which are represented in Illinois.

Order Didelphimorphia represents the opossums. Opossum young are not fully developed at birth. They must crawl into a pouch on the female’s body to complete their development.

Order Cingulata are the armadillos. Armadillos have bony plates in the skin that covers the top, sides, head and tail of the body. They are land-based and primarily eat insects.   

Shrews and moles are members of Order Eulipotyphla. These are small mammals that feed mainly on insects. Shrews are active at night and are very ferocious for their small size. Moles spend most of their life under ground, using their large front feet and claws to dig tunnels as they search for insect larvae and other prey.

Bats are the only true-flying mammals, and they are categorized in the Order Chiroptera. Their hands are modified into wings. They use echolocation to find food, but small eyes are present, and they can see well. The tragus at the base of the ear assists in hearing.

The Order Lagomorpha includes the rabbits and hares, mammals with a short, furry tail. Rabbits have long legs and long ears. A distinctive trait is their four incisors (front teeth) on the upper jaw.

The Order Rodentia contains the largest group of mammals in Illinois. Rodents are small- to medium-sized mammals. They have incisors that grow continually throughout their life and must be worn down by gnawing on hard materials. Rodents have a large gap between their incisors and the rest of their teeth.

Members of the Order Carnivora, the carnivores, feed primarily on prey that they capture. They are large- to medium-sized mammals with claws on their feet.

Even-toed ungulates make up the Order Artiodactyla. The ungulates group contains the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), a large mammal with long legs and hooves. The stomach of these mammals has four chambers.

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