Species Hierarchy


Species Info:

This lifeform is found widely in the Atlantic Ocean. This lifeform is found widely in the Indian Ocean. This lifeform is found widely in the Pacific Ocean.

False Killer Whale (Pseudorca crassidens) is found in all oceans of the world but only in tropical and temperate regions and not in arctic waters. The False Killer Whale, as the name implies, is not a whale, but a member of the dolphin group of animals. False Killer Whales can be up to 18 feet long and can weigh over 4,000 pounds.

Dolphin family (Delphinapteridae) contains mostly smaller animals
that are usually less than fifteen feet in length. The tail is  notched, and the dorsal fin is usually quite large. The members of this family have pegged teeth.

This mega family can be divided a number of ways. The three main groups are: river dolphins (including perhaps four families); porpoises (Phocoenidae); and marine dolphins (Delphinidae). There are about forty-five species of which several of the better known are listed below.

River Dolphins (Iniidae, Lipotidae, Platanistidae, and Pontoporiidae) contains five species:

   SPECIES                 COMMON NAME       LOCATION

   Inia geoffrensis        Amazon Dolphin    Amazon River
   Lipotes vexillifer      China River       Tung Ting Lake
   Platanista gangetica    Gangetic Dolphin  India
   Platanista minor        Indus             Pakistan
   Stenodelphis blainvillei La Plata         Uruguay, Brazil
   Porpoises (Phocaenidae) contains six (perhaps seven) species:

   SPECIES                 COMMON NAME      LOCATION

   Neomeris phoceanoides   India Porpoise   India to Japan
   Phocaena dioptrica      Spectacled       S. America to Georgia
   Phocaena phoecana       Harbor Porpoise  Atlantic Ocean
   Phocaena spinipinnis    Burmeister       South America
   Phocaena vomerina       Harbor Porpoise  Pacific
   Phocaenoides truei                       North Pacific
   Phoceanoides dalli      Dalls Porpoise   North Pacific
True Long Snouted Dolphins (Stenidae)

   SPECIES                 COMMON NAME    LOCATION  

   Stenella atttenuata     Bridled        Southern Waters
   Stenella frontalis*     Cuvier         S. Carolina and south
   Stenella plagiodon      Spotted        N. Carolina, Texas, & S
   Stenella styx           Longsnout      N. Atlan. and N. Pac.
   Stenella coreuleoalba   Striped        Widespread
   Stenella longirostris   Spinner        Tropical Oceans
   Steno bredanensis       Longbeak       Atlantic and Pacific
   Sousa teuszii           Humpbacked      Atlantic
   Sousa chinensis         Ind-Pac Humback Indian Ocean
   Sotalia fluviatillis    Tucuxi          Amazon River
   Sotalia guianensis      Guiana Dolphin  South America

*Stenella frontalis might be a subspecies of S. attenuata.

Dolphins (Delphinidae) contains thirty-four species of marine dolphins and long snouted dolphins combined:

   Cephalorhynchus albiventris               South Oceans
   Cephalorhynchus commersoni  Piebald       South Oceans
   Cephalorhynchus heavisidei                South Oceans
   Cephalorhynchus hectori                   South Oceans
   Delphinus delphis           Common        Atlantic Ocean
   Delphinus bairdi?           Common        Pacific Ocean
   Feresa  attenuata           Pygmy Killer  Japan
   Globicephala edwardii(?)    Pilot Whale   South Oceans
   Globicephala  macrorhyncha  Short Fin     Atlantic and Indian
   Globicephala melaena        Pilot Whale   North Atlantic
   Globicephala scammoni?      Pilot Whale   Pacific  
   Orcaella brevirostris       Irawadi       India to Borneo
   Orcinus orca                Killer Whale  North Atlantic
   Orcinus rectipinna?         Killer Whale  Pacific
   Grampus griseus             Risso         Europe and World
   Lagenodelphis hosei         Borneo

   Lagenorhynchus acutus       Atl. White Side North Atlantic
   Lagenorhynchus albirostris  Whitebeak       North Atlantic

   Lagenorhynchus australis                   South oceans
   Lagenorhynchus cruciger                    South Pacific
   Lagenorhynchus electra                     Worldwide
   Lagenorhynchus obliquidens P. White Side   Pacific
   Lagenorhynchus obscurus    Dusky           South oceans
   Lissodelphis peroni        S. Right        Southern Seas
   Lissodelphis borealis      N. Right       N. Pacific  Bering S
   Pseudorca crassidens       False Killer   Pacific & Atlantic
   Tursipos truncata         A. Bottlenose   Atlantic Ocean
   Tursipos gilli?           P. Bottlenose   North Pacific
   Tursiops aduncus?                         Indian Ocean

Delphinus bairdi might be a subspecies of D. delphis.
Glob. scammoni might be a subspecies of G. melaena.
Orcinus rectippinna might be a subspecies of O. orca.
Tursipus gilli and aduncus might be subspecies of T. truncata. Feresa attenuata was once thought extinct as it had been found only off Japan.
Lagenodelphis hosei was originally found in Borneo and was also thought to be extinct.

Whales and Dolphins (Order Cetacea) are a group of mammals that are especially modified for swimming. Their rear legs are undeveloped. Their modified front legs and a streamlined body which tapers into a tail facilitate swimming.

There are two main groups in this order. The fish-eating and the plankton-eating groups. The total number of these marine mammals is about eight-two species. The fish-eating groups contain such animals as the Dolphins and Killer Whales. The plankton-eating groups contain the giant whales that filter the plankton from the sea.

Many authors now separate the two groups of whales and dolphins in order to place the meat-eating dolphins nearer the carnivores.

Some representative whale sizes:

Blue Whale (Baleen)- 100 feet
Finback Whale (Baleen)- 80 feet
Bowhead Whale(Baleen)- 60 feet
Sperm Whale (Sperm)- 60 feet
North Atlantic Right Whale(Baleen)- 60 feet
Rorqual (Baleen)- 60 feet
Humback (Baleen)- 50 feet
Pacific Gray Whale (Baleen)- 45 feet
Bairds Whale (Beaked)- 40 feet
Piked Whale (Baleen)- 33 feet
Bottle-nosed Whale (Beaked)- 30 feet
Killer Whale (Dolphin)- 30 feet
Pigmy Right Whale(Baleen)- 20 feet

Mammals (Class Mammalia), together with the birds, are among the youngest of the classes of animals. In species count, mammals number about fifty-one hundred, trailing reptiles (approximately fifty-five hundred), fish (approximately eighteen thousand), and birds (approximately eighty-six hundred).

There are three sub-types of mammals:

   monotremes, the most primitive:
      Develop in reptilian-like eggs and suckle milk emerging
      (i.e., spiny anteater, duckbilled platypus)

      Newborn emerges very underdeveloped and continue to
      mature in a pouch on its mother's abdomen (i.e., opossums,
      koala, kangaroo)

      Embryo develops within the uterus of the female and is
      dependent on a placenta for nutrition and waste removal
      (i.e., humans, lions, monkeys)  

About sixty-five million years ago, the Tertiary era produced thirty-five orders of mammals. Of this number, eighteen have survived to represent Earth's most diversified as well as its most highly developed classification of animals.

Extinction of mammals is fast becoming a serious issue. Duff and Lawson present a list of forty-one extinct species that reached extinction prior to 1800. These forty-one species are not acknowledged in the counts of the various families. Duff and Lawson also present a list of forty-six species including three gazelles, one zebra, one seal, one deer, and one wolf that have probably gone extinct since 1800. These forty-six species are included in the family counts. Science is adding about forty to fifty new species a year to the list. Many of these are the result of divisions of prior species; some are recent discoveries.

Mammals owe their survival to adaptive capabilities that include the ability to exploit whatever sources of food are available to them, as well as their ability to adjust to various climes. Food specialization influenced evolution to such a great extent that the teeth structure can and has been used to provide extensive information on the food needs and various lifestyles of extinct species.

Despite the vast diversity among mammals in terms of size, habitats and adaptations, they share without exception many characteristics such as:  

    a. body hair
    b. mammary glands
    c. certain skull characteristics
    d. four limbs that permit speed
    e. parallel not perpendicular limbs
    f. compartmentalized internal organs
    g. a four-chambered heart and pulmonary circulation

Backboned Animals (Phylum Chordata) are the most advanced group of animals on earth. These animals are characterized by having a spinal cord or backbone. Most members have a clearly defined brain that controls the organism through a spinal cord. Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are in this phylum.

Currently, some taxonomists believe that the fish should be divided into two groups (sharks and regular fishes) and that there are some other primitive groups in the phylum such as hagfish or lampreys.

Animal Kingdom contains numerous organisms that feed on other animals or plants. Included in the animal kingdom are the lower marine invertebrates such as sponges and corals, the jointed legged animals such as insects and spiders, and the backboned animals such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.


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