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13 Examples of Placental Mammals (With Pictures)

Certain animals, like humans, possess the remarkable ability to develop their offspring within their placenta. The placenta, an organ that plays a crucial role in gestation, facilitates a multitude of functions, including the transfer of oxygen, nutrients, and other beneficial substances from the mother to the developing fetus. Many examples of placental mammals, also called eutherians, have longer gestations and give birth to young that are relatively developed compared to marsupials and monotremes.

Additionally, these animals have a wider opening at the base of the pelvis, which enables the birth of a large baby in comparison to the mother’s size.  In this article, we’ll explore several mammals that possess this remarkable adaptation and delve into the details of their reproduction process. 

13 Examples of placental mammals

1. Black rhinoceros

Black rhinoceros
Black rhinoceros | image by Derek Keats via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Diceros bicornis

One of the largest placental mammals that you’ll encounter in Africa is the black rhinoceros. They extend their range from Cameroon to South Africa, frequently inhabiting diverse habitats such as grasslands, deserts, and tropical forests, where they can find water sources within a distance of 25 kilometers.

They display solitary behavior and engage in a polygynous mating system, wherein they mate with multiple females. A single calf is born to female Black rhinos after a development period of 15 to 16 months of development. The mother rhino then takes on the responsibility of nurturing and protecting her offspring for a duration of up to four years. 

2. Four-toed hedgehog

Four-toed hedgehog
Four-toed hedgehog | image by Pueri Michał Klimont via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Atelerix albiventris

The Four-toed hedgehog is a creature that has a remarkable skill – they can curl themselves into a defensive ball and raise their quills as a means of protection when faced with danger. These hedgehogs breed once or twice a year, engaging in mating activities during the rainy and warm seasons when food is abundant.

This mating behavior typically occurs between the months of October and March. The spiny offspring are born after a gestation period of 35 days, and they usually give birth to around 6 offspring, which mature at about two months of age.

3. Star-nosed mole

Star nosed mole on its burrow
Star-nosed mole on its burrow | image by gordonramsaysubmissions via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Condylura cristata

One of the eutherians you may encounter in North America is the star-nosed mole that thrives in moist habitats with poor drainage, including forests, wet meadows, and marshes. During the breeding season, this species engages in monogamous behavior, forming pairs as early as autumn, and mates during the months of March and April. After a 45-day gestation, females give birth to 2-7 hairless offspring that become independent at 30 days and mature at 10 months. 

4. African bush elephant

African bush elephant
African bush elephant | Image by Kirsi Kataniemi from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Loxodonta africana

Among the well-known mammals that roam the continent of Africa are African elephants. These large animals have a polygynandrous mating system, meaning they engage in multiple mating with different partners.

They do year-round breeding, with a development period lasting 22 months, and give birth to calves weighing between 198 and 265 lbs. These newborns depend on their mother’s milk for 4 months. Around 8 years of age, these young animals achieve full independence, with males reaching maturity at 20 years and females at 11 years.

5. Lion

Lion sits on the ground
Lion sits on the ground

Scientific Name: Panthera leo

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The Lions are large carnivorous mammals you’ll find in savanna habitats. These skilled hunters frequently target ungulates as prey and reproduce year-round, primarily through polygynous mating.

Lionesses deliver their cubs after a gestation period of 3.5 months. These cubs are then nurtured and cared for by the lionesses until they gain independence at around 16 months of age. 

6. Chimpanzee

Adult and young chimpanzees
Adult and young chimpanzees | Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Pan troglodytes

Many placental mammals inhabit the central African tropical forests, including the chimpanzees. Chimpanzees engage in complex reproductive behaviors, as both males and females seek out multiple partners for mating.

They have a gestation period of about 202 to 260 days, during which typically only one young is born. You’ll see mothers carrying their babies on their backs for three to six months until the babies stop weaning at three to four years old. 

7. Brown bear

Brown bear in the forest
Brown bear in the forest | image by Frank Vassen via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Ursus arctos

Brown bears have a vast habitat range that spans from desert fringes to mountainous forests. In North America, tundras, alpine meadows, and coastlines are where you’ll find them. While females are smaller, males can grow to a height of 8 feet and a weight of over 1700 lbs.

Their mating season is between May and July, during which time a delayed implantation occurs in the uterus five months after the mating process has taken place. The following development period will last 6 to 8 weeks, making the entire pregnancy last 180 to 266 days (including pre-implantation). 

8. Pygmy three-toed sloth

Pygmy three-toed sloth
Pygmy three-toed sloth | image by Lider Sucre via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Bradypus pygmaeus

The Pygmy three-toed sloth is an eutherian that exclusively inhabits the coastal red mangroves along the coast of Panama. They have an arboreal behavior, remaining active throughout the day.

As solitary creatures, their mating behavior isn’t fully understood, but male competition for receptive females is observed in them. Breeding occurs during the dry and wet seasons, with births taking place after a 6-month gestation, aligning with periods of abundant food. 

9. Jamaican fruit bats

Jamaican fruit bat
Jamaican fruit bat | image by Bernard DUPONT via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Artibeus jamaicensis

Bats are the only placenta mammals that can fly, and the Jamaican fruit bat is one of the ones you can find in Central and Northern South America. You can see this flying mammal living in a variety of habitats, including plantations, dry forests, and rainforests.

The breeding of these bats generally coincides with the availability of food and the coming of the wet and dry seasons. Females deliver only one pup, although twins may be born on rare occasions. 

10. Dog

Dog fetched stick
Dog fetched stick

Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris

Dogs are diverse domesticated offspring of gray wolves that have been bred for various purposes. Humans often control their breeding as they keep them as pets, making them one of the most popular animals.

The gestation period of these creatures spans 9 weeks, during which they give birth to litters consisting of 3 to 9 puppies. Dogs take part in cooperative care of their offspring, either with the assistance of other members of their social group or solely with their mothers, until the puppies reach the age of 8 to 10 weeks.

11. Nine-banded armadillo

Nine-banded armadillo foraging
Nine-banded armadillo foraging | image by Robert Nunnally via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Dasypus novemcinctus

Another eutherian you can find in the Americas is the nine-banded armadillos. During the summer, these solitary creatures form pairs and partake in various behaviors such as touching, wagging their tails, and sniffing.

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The reproduction of these animals also includes the process of delayed implantation, which leads to the birth of identical quadruplets in spring after a gestation period of four months. Young are born with advanced functionality, but it takes them several weeks to develop a hardened armor. 

12. Horse

Wild horses in Corolla
Wild horses in Corolla | image by Michael Zuber via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Equus caballus

Horses, known for their large size and their remarkable ability to assist humans with transportation and labor, are among the domesticated placental mammals that one can easily identify. Horses undergo a development period of 335 days, during which they develop and nurture a single foal each year.

Foals can stand and walk within hours after birth, and they can start eating solid food within a week of being born. Domesticated horses typically undergo the weaning process at the age of four to six months, whereas wild foals require a longer period of up to two years.

13. Dolphin

Common bottlenose dolphin breaching
Common bottlenose dolphin breaching | image by NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Tursiops truncatus

Dolphins are streamlined marine mammals that are placental and have a unique physiology. These creatures possess a unique characteristic that sets them apart from other underwater creatures: they use their mammary glands to nurse and nourish their calves.

Polygamous mating is also a part of their breeding process, wherein they engage in multiple partners. The gestation period lasts approximately 12 months, resulting in the birth of a single calf. Females nurture their young for a duration of 18-20 months, and they only breed every 3-6 years. 

Sources:

  • “What is a placental mammal anyway?”, J. A. Capra, P. Abbot, National Library of Medicine, September 12, 2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Louise Robles

About Louise Robles

Louise writes about a wide variety of topics including wildlife, animals, and nature. She's developed a growing interest in animal biology and categorization due to her fascination with how they interact with one another and with their surroundings.