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The largest group of mammals, the placentals, have a placenta, which enables the feeding of the fetus during gestation.Mammals range in size from the 30–40 mm (1.2–1.6 in) bumblebee bat to the 30-meter (98 ft) blue whale.In some classifications, extant mammals are divided into two subclasses: the Prototheria, that is, the order Monotremata; and the Theria, or the infraclasses Metatheria and Eutheria.The marsupials constitute the crown group of the Metatheria, and include all living metatherians as well as many extinct ones; the placentals are the crown group of the Eutheria.Mammals are hunted or raced for sport, and are used as model organisms in science.Mammals have been depicted in art since Palaeolithic times, and appear in literature, film, mythology, and religion.Defaunation of mammals is primarily driven by anthropogenic factors, such as poaching and habitat destruction, though there are efforts to combat this.

The word "mammal" is modern, from the scientific name Mammalia coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, derived from the Latin mamma ("teat, pap").No classification system is universally accepted; Mc Kenna & Bell (1997) and Wilson & Reader (2005) provide useful recent compendiums.George Gaylord Simpson's "Principles of Classification and a Classification of Mammals" (AMNH Bulletin v.Mammals can organize themselves into fission-fusion societies, harems, and hierarchies, but can also be solitary and territorial.Most mammals are polygynous, but some can be monogamous or polyandrous.

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