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Home > Education > Just for Educators > Lesson Plans > Comparison of Mammals, Reptiles and Birds (GMHDRNC)  

Lesson Plans: Comparison of Mammals, Reptiles and Birds (GMHDRNC)

Title

Comparison of Mammals, Reptiles and Birds (GMHDRNC) 

Track

Wildlife - Birds; Wildlife - General; Wildlife - Reptiles 

Frameworks

Download the pdf at the end of this lesson.

Summary

This is a great program for elementary kids. By using educational animals, participants learn what makes a bird a bird and what makes it different from a mammal or reptile.

Grade Level

K - 6  

Duration

45 minutes - 1 hour 

Suggested Number of Participants

10 - 30 

Recommended Setting

Indoor or outdoor classroom

Objectives

  • Understand the characteristics of mammals, reptiles and birds.
  • Learn the similarities and differences among these groups.
  • Understand the ecological importance of each group of animals.

Key Terms

Bird

Cold-blooded (ectothermic)

Ecology

Herpetology

Mammal

Mammology

Ornithology

Reptile

Warm-blooded (endothermic)

Materials

Live examples of animals

Skins, furs, feathers or other samples

Background

Ecology is the study of the interrelationships among living organisms. The idea of this program is not only to determine what differences characterize each animal group but also to reveal how they rely on each other for survival.

Procedure

  1. Prior to the program, decide which kinds of live animals to present and arrange the discussion around them.
  2. Mammology is the study of mammals. Explain the biological characteristics that define mammals. Mammals are furbearers that give birth to live young and produce milk from mammary glands. (Generally these descriptions work, but don’t forget the egg-laying, duck-billed platypus.) All mammals are warm-blooded or endothermic. In Arkansas, mammals range in size from the .14-ounce southeastern shrew to the 700-pound elk.
  3. Herpetology is the study of reptiles. Define reptiles and list a few Arkansas species. Reptiles are scale-covered animals that generally lay eggs and live on land. All reptiles are cold-blooded or ectothermic, meaning they maintain body temperature from basking in the sun or contact with warm surfaces. Most reptiles require this heat to process their food: alligators must maintain a body temperature of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit to digest prey.
  4. Ornithology is the study of birds. Describe some of the interesting physical adaptations that keep birds in the air. Birds are warm-blooded egg-layers. All birds have feathers, and most can fly, owing especially to their hollow bones. Another specialization for flight is an extended keel, or breastbone, to anchor the breast muscle. Most birds use calls and songs to communicate or gather, and many migrate for warmer weather. The sex organs of birds are entirely internal, and the female incubates eggs. Many birds exhibit sexual dimorphism; the female has a duller color or pattern to better camouflage while nesting. Most birds also have oil glands near the tail that help waterproof feathers. Preening covers their feathers with this oil.
  5. A large part of this program will be spent showing examples from these groups, and so much of the information will concern the samples chosen. The DRNC does not keep mammals but are presented using “biofacts,” the animals’ skins and skulls.
  6. Answer any questions.

Review

  • If an animal is endothermic, how does it heat its body?
  • What is the name for the study of birds?
  • Does the bearing of live young immediately classify an animal as a mammal?

Location

Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff 

locationname

Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff, AR 

Outdoor Activity

No 

Contact

Education Program Coordinator, 870-534-0011

Special Conditions

 

Modifications

 

Resources

 

Participant Information Sheets

 

Participant Worksheets

 

Glossary

Bird – any warm-blooded vertebrate of the class Aves, having a body covered with feathers, forelimbs modified into wings, scaly legs, a beak, and no teeth, and bearing young in a hard-shelled egg

 

Cold-blooded – (ectothermic) – relating to an organism that regulates its body temperature by exchanging heat with its surroundings

 

Ecology – branch of biology dealing with the interactions between organisms and their environment 


Herpetology
– a branch of zoology dealing with reptiles and amphibians

 

Mammal – any of a class of higher vertebrates, including man, that produce milk for their young, have fur or hair, are warm-blooded and, with the exception of the egg-laying monotremes, bear young alive

 

Mammology – the science dealing with mammals

 

Ornithology – branch of zoology dealing with birds

 

Reptile – any cold-blooded, egg-laying, air-breathing vertebrate of the class Reptilia, including turtles, snakes, lizards, crocodilians, amphibians, tuatara and various extinct members including the dinosaurs

 

Warm-blooded – pertaining to mammals and birds whose blood temperatures range from 98° to 112°F (37° to 44°C) and remain relatively constant, regardless of the temperature around them

Bird – any warm-blooded vertebrate of the class Aves, having a body covered with feathers, forelimbs modified into wings, scaly legs, a beak, and no teeth, and bearing young in a hard-shelled egg

 

Cold-blooded – (ectothermic) – relating to an organism that regulates its body temperature by exchanging heat with its surroundings

 

Ecology – branch of biology dealing with the interactions between organisms and their environment

 

Herpetology – a branch of zoology dealing with reptiles and amphibians

 

Mammal – any of a class of higher vertebrates, including man, that produce milk for their young, have fur or hair, are warm-blooded and, with the exception of the egg-laying monotremes, bear young alive

 

Mammology – the science dealing with mammals

 

Ornithology – branch of zoology dealing with birds

 

Reptile – any cold-blooded, egg-laying, air-breathing vertebrate of the class Reptilia, including turtles, snakes, lizards, crocodilians, amphibians, tuatara and various extinct members including the dinosaurs

 

Warm-blooded – pertaining to mammals and birds whose blood temperatures range from 98° to 112°F (37° to 44°C) and remain relatively constant, regardless of the temperature around them

 

Remaining Document

 

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Created at 8/13/2010 10:10 AM  by Mary Ann Halsey 
Last modified at 5/25/2012 3:24 PM  by BEVERLY BIRDSONG