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The Biology of our Extended Family: Mammals

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

Humans are mammals, but what makes us mammals? What do we have in common with whales and bats? Through interactive lectures and discussion in small groups you will explore the life of this fascinating group of animals to become mammologists (an expert in mammals)! Learn why mammals such as mice and pigs are essential for research in human genetic disorders and diseases, mammals such as cetaceans and primates are important for studies on learning and communication, and how the unique aspects of monotremes and marsupials makes them particularly interesting to researchers studying mammalian reproduction and evolution.

What anatomical features are used to classify mammals into groups? With the help of identification guides you will learn to characterize the orders of extant mammals with emphasis in those found in New England. Mammals are very diverse; in this course you will learn about their morphological, physiological, and behavioral adaptations for feeding, locomotion, reproduction, etc. Did you know that some mammals such as the vaquita and rhinos are on the brink of extinction? in this course you will learn about current threats to the survival of mammal species and some conservation policies that have been designed to protect them. Have you ever wondered how mammalogists study nocturnal and elusive mammals such as bats or fast and small mammals such as mice? Any well trained mammologist like yourself needs to know the techniques used to collect accurate information about small and large mammals. After receiving all this training, you and your group will apply your recently acquired knowledge during our visit to the Roger Williams Park Zoo and Museum of Natural History.

This course provides fundamental information that prepares students for introductory ecology and evolution, zoology, vertebrate biology and wildlife management courses.

By the end of this course, students will:
• better understand many aspects in the biology of Homo sapiens.
• have a good understanding of the general appearance, distribution, and basic biology of most orders of mammals of the world
• be exposed to techniques of research in mammalian biology (some of which will be applicable to other animal groups)
• know and identify many of the mammalian species of New England.
• understand the importance of mammals for maintaining services and functions associated with sustaining a balanced ecosystem and how many species provide humans with a large variety of resources

For students completing grades 9-12. There are no specific prerequisites. All the information you need will be provided.

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