Difference Between Marsupials
Placental & Monotreme Mammals Marsupials vs Placental & Monotreme Mammals

What is a Mammal

Mammals are animals that breath air, have backbones, are warm-blooded, have a four chambered heart and are covered with fur or hair. The young of most mammals are born alive.

The most important characteristic of mammals is that they feed their babies milk from their mother's body. Hence the name "mammal" derived from the Latin word mamma which means teat or nipple.

Mammals are divided into three groups based on how their babies develop. These are placental, marsupial and monotreme mammals.


Placental Mammals

Placental mammals constitute over 5000 difference species of mammals and include animals as varied as humans, aardvarks, cats, horses and even whales.

Birth

The key characteristic of a placental mammal is that gives birth to babies that are far more advanced in their development than monotremes and marsupials. They do this by developing the baby inside their body in a uterus. The baby is attached to the uterus by an organ called a placenta which in turn is connected to the mother's blood supply. In this way the baby gets all the nutrients it needs to grow. The term "placental" is somewhat misleading because marsupial mammals also have a rudimentary placenta. The key difference is that in a placental mammal the baby remains attached to the placenta inside the mother's uterus for a relatively longer period of time compared to a marsupial. Placental mammals are sometimes called eutherian mammals to try to clear up this confusion. Because they have a uterus, placental mammals do not have a pouch.

Lactation

Placental mammals provide nourishment for their young by providing them with milk through a teat or nipple. Because the baby is already relatively well developed before it is born the period of lactation is much shorter than for equivalent marsupials.

Body Temperature

In general placental mammals have a body temperature of 38°C. This is about 3°C higher than most marsupial.

Metabolism

The basal metabolic rates (BMRs) of placental mammals is about 30% higher than marsupials.

Other

In general placental mammals have less teeth than marsupials. They also grow two pairs of teeth, namely milk teeth and adult teeth.


Marsupial Mammals

Marsupial mammals constitute 334 species of mammals and include animals such as kangaroos, koalas, possums and bandicoots.

Birth

Marsupials also give birth to live babies like placental mammals. They too have a uterus and placenta. The key difference is that the marsupial placenta is more like a yoke sac and the marsupial baby is attached to it for an extremely short period of time compared to a placental mammal. A very small and underdeveloped offspring is then born.

These babies are blind at birth, have no ears and no back legs. They only have strong stumpy front legs and a good sense of smell. With these two assets the young baby crawls from the mother's birth channel into the pouch where it attaches to one of her teats and remains there for many months slowly growing into a viable young animal.

Lactation

Marsupial babies are nourished with milk supplied by their mothers through teats inside their pouches. Because their young are born relatively underdeveloped these young animals lactate for a very long time compared to equivalent placental animals.

Body Temperature

In general marsupials have a body temperature of 35°C. As opposed to placental mammals that have a temperature of about 38°C.

Metabolism

Marsupials have basal metabolic rates (BMRs) 30% lower than those of most placental mammals.

Other

Marsupials in general have more teeth than placental mammals.  They also grow only one set of teeth of which some are replaced during their lifetime. (They have no milk teeth).

 


Monotreme Mammals

Monotremes are the only egg laying mammals in the world. The platypus and echidna are monotremes.

Birth

The female lays a single leathery-egg directly into a shallow pouch in her belly. When the minuscular little baby animal hatches, usually in about ten days,

Lactation

The young platypus feeds on milk that seeps out of pores in its mother's abdomen.

Body Temperature

Monotremes have the lowest body temperature amongst mammals at 30°C. This 8°C lower than a placental mammal and 5°C lower than a marsupial.

Metabolism

Monotremes have basal metabolic rates (BMRs) 25-30% lower than those of most placental mammals.


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