The Life Cycle Of A Mammal (KS2) Made Easy

Adult lion and its cub lying in the grass and basking in the sun.
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Image © Zdenek Machacek.

A mammal is a type of animal, and humans are mammals.

All animals belong to one of six groups: mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. Mammals include cats, cows, pigs, elephants, horses, and even porcupines - plus more.

How Are Mammals Different To Other Animals?

-They all have hair or fur on their bodies.

-They are warm-blooded.

-The mothers feed their babies milk.

-They have three small bones in their ears.

-They breathe air (even the ones that live in the water).

All mammals species are given birth to, except the duck-billed platypus and the spiny anteater (the monotremes).

Deer with large antlers sat down in the grass.
Image © Weald Country Park

What Is A Life Cycle?

A life cycle is a series of processes that take place in the lives of living things: animal, plant, even bacteria! It is called a cycle because the last step is connected to the first; after the last step, step one repeats itself again. In the last stage, the adult animal (or plant) is able to reproduce, causing the cycle to start again with the new baby!

Different Stages In The Life Cycle Of A Mammal:

-The Baby Stage: Following birth, this is where the baby is dependent on the mother for everything, especially milk.

-The Young Stage: This is where we now have a child, who is growing a lot and is being supported by its parents (though it's no longer drinking milk). This is the stage where they learn to be more independent.

-The Independent Stage: Where the mammals are now adults and the females can have babies of their own.

All animals go through these stages, but for some animals, there are more steps:

The Life Cycle Of An Insect: Egg - Larva - Pupa - Young Insect - Adult Insect (five stages).

The Life Cycle Of An Amphibian: Egg - Tadpole - Tadpole With Legs - Froglet - Frog (five stages).

Different Mammal Life Cycles

Life Cycle Of A Human: Baby - Toddler/Child/Teenager - Adult.

Life Cycle Of A Horse: Foal - Yearling - Adult Horse.

Life Cycle Of A Dog: Puppy - Young Dog - Adult Dog.

Life Cycle Of An Elephant: Calf - Young Elephant (also called a calf) - Adult Elephant.

Life Cycle Of An Ape: Baby - Young Ape - Adult Ape.

The life cycles seem to be identical for all mammals, but the differences in the life cycles of mammals lie in the duration of each stage.

Adult sheep and lamb standing in the grassy field.

What Do KS2 Children Need To Know About The Mammal Life Cycle?

Education about life cycles for KS2 children will start in Year 1. From Year 1 to Year 6, they begin to apply common features of to different types of living creature:

Year 1: Children observe how plants develop over time, keeping records of their changes.

Year 2: Children learn that plants develop from seeds, and observe the plant life cycle from seed to plant. They also learn that animals produce offspring.

Year 3: Children observe the plant life cycle in greater detail, developing an understanding of seed dispersal in their education.

Year 4: Children continue to observe the plant life cycle in greater detail, developing an understanding of seed dispersal and its significance.

Year 5: The life cycles of animals and plants will be looked at, including that of humans. The similarities and differences between different types of animals (birds, amphibians, mammals and insects) will be considered.

Year 6: Further insight into the life cycles of animals and plants will be gained. The similarities and differences between life cycles of different types of animal (birds, amphibians, mammals and insects) will also be observed.

Fun Facts About The Life Cycles Of Mammals:

-Nearly all mammals develop teeth in their life cycles, except dolphins, manatees, dugongs, and whales.

-Most mammals develop seven bones in their vertebrae (small bones forming the backbone) but the three-toed sloth doesn't - it can have eight or nine.

-All mammals will lose their teeth during their life cycle. For most mammals, this will happen only once. For the manatees, pygmy-rock wallabies and silvery mole-rats, their teeth will fall out, grow back, and fall out again - this keeps happening throughout their life cycle.

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