Mammals are a clade of endothermic amniotes distinguished from the reptiles and the birds by the possession of hair, three middle ear bones, mammary glands in females, and a neocortex (a region of the brain). The mammalian brain regulates body temperature and the circulatory system, including the four-chambered heart. The mammals include the largest animals on the planet. The basic body type is a four-legged land-borne animal, but some mammals are adapted for life at sea, in the air, in the trees, or on two legs. The largest group of mammals have a placenta which feeds the offspring during pregnancy. Mammals range in size from the 1.2″ – 1.6″ bumblebee bat to the 108′ blue whale.
The word “mammal” is modern, from the scientific name Mammalia coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, derived from the Latin mamma (“teat, pap”). All female mammals nurse their young with milk, which is secreted from special glands, the mammary glands. Except for the five species of monotremes (egg-laying mammals), all modern mammals give birth to live young.