Difference Between Marsupials,
Placentals & Monotremes
Placental - Marsupials - Monotreme Mammals
The most important characteristic of all 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 also breath air, have backbones, are warm-blooded, have a four chambered heart and have fur or hair. The young of most, but not all, mammals are born alive.
Placental mammals constitute over 5,000 different species of animals and include those as varied as humans, aardvarks, cats, horses and even whales.
The key characteristic of a placental mammal is that it 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 a umbilical cord which in turn is attached to an organ called a placenta which 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 also called eutherian mammals to try to clear up this confusion. Because they have a uterus, placental mammals do not have a pouch.
Do all Animals have Belly Buttons?
No. Not all animals have belly buttons or navels. Only placental mammals such as you and me, cats, cows, whales, etc. have belly buttons. That’s because placental mammal babies have a umbilical cord which originally connected there.
Placental mammals provide nourishment for their young by providing them with milk through teats or nipples. Because the baby is already relatively well developed before it is born, the period of lactation is much shorter than for equivalent marsupials.
In general placental mammals have a body temperature of 38°C. This is about 3°C higher than most marsupial.
The basal metabolic rates (BMRs) of placental mammals is about 30% higher than other marsupial and monotreme mammals. This means they consume far more energy than an equivalent sized marsupial or monotreme.
In general placental mammals have less teeth than marsupials. They also grow two pairs of teeth, namely milk teeth and adult teeth.
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 hardly any back legs. They 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.
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.
In general marsupials have a body temperature of 35°C. As opposed to placental mammals that have a temperature of about 38°C.
Marsupials have basal metabolic rates (BMRs) 30% lower than those of most placental mammals. They are far more efficient uses of energy.
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).
The female lays a single leathery-egg directly into a shallow pouch in her belly. There the minuscular little baby animal hatches, usually in about ten days,
Monotremes have no teats or nipples. Milk seeps out of pores in the mother's abdomen and the young animal laps it up.
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.
Monotremes have basal metabolic rates (BMRs) 25-30% lower than those of most placental mammals.
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