Mammals come in a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes, and yet all species have some characteristics in common. These similarities justify the inclusion of all such diverse types within the single taxonomic group (or class) called the Mammalia. This free course, Introducing mammals, offers a starting point for the study of mammals. It will establish their rich diversity, while highlighting the common features that define the group.
Course learning outcomes
After studying this course, you should be able to:
explain the distinctive biological features of monotremes
distinguish contrasting modes of reproduction in monotremes, marsupials and placental mammals
describe the cellular basis of lactation and explain the benefits of an early diet of milk
explain the significance of mammalian metabolic rate
explain how and why the thermogenic response differs among species.
You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.
Creative commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence.
However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These
materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions377 and our FAQs378.
Full copyright details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of each week.
For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.
Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University.
The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now.
Take a look at all Open University courses.
If you are new to University-level study,
we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an
Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on
Where to take your learning next for more information.