Studying mammals: The opportunists
That mammals need energy to support all aspects of their lives, be it breathing, running, excreting, repairing cells, reproducing, keeping warm, is a central, unifying theme of the 'Studying mammals' series of units. So is the notion of specialisation of diet - that mammals display adaptations, i.e. specialised teeth or complex stomachs, that enable them to cope with the demands of particular diets. This course addresses these two related themes of energy and of specialisation. Why might omnivorous mammals have 'broken the rules' and adopted a much more wide-ranging diet than the carnivores and herbivores? This course will tell you about their biology, mixing examples of mammalian diversity with the identification of characteristics that are common to many omnivores.
This is the sixth in a series of units about studying mammals. To get the most from these units, you will need access to a copy of The Life of Mammals (2002) by David Attenborough, BBC Books (ISBN 0563534230), and The Life of Mammals (2002) on DVD, which contains the associated series of ten BBC TV programmes. OpenLearn course S182_8 Studying mammals: life in the trees contains samples from the DVD set. You should begin each course by watching the relevant TV programme on the DVD and reading the corresponding chapter in The Life of Mammals. You will be asked to rewatch specific sequences from the programme as you work through the course.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in