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Animal Database
Lagomorpha
Cottontail Rabbit
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Lagomorpha

The Lagomorphs are the members of the taxonomic order Lagomorpha, of which there are two living families: the Leporidae (hares and rabbits) and the Ochotonidae (pikas). The name of the order is derived from the Greek lagos (λαγός, "hare") and morphē (μορφή, "form"). There are about 80 species of lagomorph which include 30 species of pika, twenty species of rabbits and cottontails, and 30 species of hares.

Characteristics[]

Though these mammals can resemble rodents (order Rodentia) and were classified as a superfamily in that order until the early twentieth century, they have since been considered a separate order. For a time it was common to consider the lagomorphs only distant relatives of the rodents, to whom they merely bore a superficial resemblance.

Characteristics[]

Lagomorphs are similar to other mammals in that they all have hair, four limbs (i.e., they are tetrapods), and mammary glands and are endotherms. Lagomorphs possess a moderately fused postorbital process to the cranium, unlike other small mammals. They differ in that they have a mixture of "primitive" and "advanced" physical traits.

Distribution[]

Lagomorphs are widespread around the world and inhabit every continent except Antarctica. However, they are not found in most of the southern cone of South America, in the West Indies, Indonesia or Madagascar, nor on many islands. Although they are not native to Australia, humans have introduced them there and they have successfully colonized many parts of the country and caused disruption to native species.

Taxonomy and evolutionary history[]

Other names used for this order, now considered synonymous, include: Duplicidentata - Illiger, 1811; Leporida - Averianov, 1999; Neolagomorpha - Averianov, 1999; Ochotonida - Averianov, 1999; and Palarodentia - Haeckel, 1895, Lilian, 2016.

The evolutionary history of the lagomorphs is still not well understood. Until recently, it was generally agreed that Eurymylus, which lived in eastern Asia and dates back to the late Paleocene or early Eocene, was an ancestor of the lagomorphs. More recent examination of the fossil evidence suggests that the lagomorphs may have instead descended from Anagaloidea, also known as "mimotonids", while Eurymylus was more closely related to rodents (although not a direct ancestor). The leporids first appeared in the late Eocene and rapidly spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere; they show a trend towards increasingly long hind limbs as the modern leaping gait developed. The pikas appeared somewhat later in the Oligocene of eastern Asia.

Lagomorphs were certainly more diverse in the past than in the present, with around 75 genera and over 230 species represented in the fossil record and many more species in a single biome. This is evidence that lagomorph lineages are declining.

Recent finds suggest an Indian origin for the clade, having possibly evolved in isolation when India was an island continent in the Paleocene.

Biology[]

Like other herbivores, lagomorphs have to deal with a bulky diet in which the cell walls are composed of cellulose, a substance which mammalian digestive enzymes are unable to break down. Despite this, lagomorphs have developed a way of extracting maximum nourishment from their diet. First they bite off and shred plant tissues with their incisors and then they grind the material with their molars. Digestion continues in the stomach and small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. After that, certain food remains get diverted into the caecum, a blind-ended pouch. Here, they are mixed with bacteria, yeasts and other micro-organisms that are able to digest cellulose and turn it into sugar, a process known as hindgut fermentation. Other faecal matter passes along the colon and is excreted in the normal way as small, dry pellets. About four to eight hours after the meal, the contents of the caecum pass into the colon and are eliminated as soft, moist pellets known as cecotropes. These are immediately eaten by the lagomorph, which can thus extract all the remaining nutrients in the food.

Birth and early life[]

Many lagomorphs breed several times a year and produce large litters. This is particularly the case in species that breed in underground, protective environments such as burrows. The altricial young of rabbits, called kittens, are born naked and helpless after a short gestation period and the mother can become pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth. The mothers are able to leave these young safely and go off to feed, returning at intervals to feed them with their unusually rich milk. In some species, the mother only visits and feeds the litter once a day but the young grow rapidly and are usually weaned within a month. Hares live above ground and their litters, containing leverets, are born in "forms" concealed among tussocks and scrub. They have a strategy to prevent predators from tracking down their litter by following the adults' scent. They approach and depart from the nesting site in a series of immense bounds, sometimes moving at right angles to their previous direction. The young are precocial and a small number are born after a longer gestation period, already clad in short fur and able to move around.

Sociality and safety[]

Many species of lagomorphs, particularly the rabbits and the pikas, are gregarious and live in colonies, whereas hares are generally solitary species, although many hares travel and forage in groups of two, three, or four. The rabbits and pikas rely on their holes as places of safety when danger threatens, but hares rely on their long legs, great speed and jinking gait to escape from predators.

Classification[]

Family Leporidae[]

Subfamily †Archaeolaginae[]

Genus †Archaeolagus add text... Genus †HypolagusHypolagus balearicusHypolagus petenyiiHypolagus brachygnathusHypolagus gromoviHypolagus multiplicatusHypolagus peregrinusHypolagus schreuderaeHypolagus transbaicalicusHypolagus vetus Genus †Notolagus add text... Genus †Panolax add text...

Subfamily Leporinae[]

Genus †Alilepus add text... Genus Brachylagus Pygmy Rabbit, Brachylagus idahoensis Genus Bunolagus Riverine Rabbit, Bunolagus monticularis Genus Caprolagus Hispid Hare, Caprolagus hispidus Genus Lepus Antelope Jackrabbit, Lepus alleni Snowshoe Hare, Lepus americanus Arctic Hare, Lepus arcticus Alaskan Hare, Lepus othus Mountain Hare, Lepus timidus Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus White-sided Jackrabbit, Lepus callotis Cape Hare, Lepus capensis Tehuantepec Jackrabbit, Lepus flavigularis Black Jackrabbit, Lepus insularis Scrub Hare, Lepus saxatilis Desert Hare, Lepus tibetanus Tolai Hare, Lepus tolai Broom Hare, Lepus castroviejoi Yunnan Hare, Lepus comus Korean Hare, Lepus coreanus Corsican Hare, Lepus corsicanus European Hare, Lepus europaeus Granada Hare, Lepus granatensis Manchurian Hare, Lepus mandshuricus Woolly Hare, Lepus oiostolus Ethiopian Highland Hare, Lepus starcki White-tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus townsendii Ethiopian Hare, Lepus fagani African Savanna Hare, Lepus microtis Hainan Hare, Lepus hainanus Indian Hare, Lepus nigricollis Burmese Hare, Lepus peguensis Chinese Hare, Lepus sinensis Yarkand Hare, Lepus yarkandensis Japanese Hare, Lepus brachyurus Abyssinian Hare, Lepus habessinicus Genus Nesolagus Annamite Striped Rabbit, Nesolagus timminsi Sumatran Striped Rabbit, Nesolagus netscheri Nesolagus sinensis Genus Oryctolagus European Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus Genus †Nuralagus Nuralagus rex Genus Pentalagus Amami Rabbit, Pentalagus furnessi Genus †Pliolagus add text... Genus †Pliosiwalagus add text... Genus Poelagus Bunyoro Rabbit, Poelagus marjorita Genus †Pratilepus add text... Genus Pronolagus Natal Red Rock Hare, Pronolagus crassicaudatus Jameson's Red Rock Hare, Pronolagus randensis Smith's Red Rock Hare, Pronolagus rupestris Hewitt's Red Rock Hare, Pronolagus saundersiae Genus Romerolagus Volcano Rabbit, Romerolagus diazi Genus †Serengetilagus add text... Genus Sylvilagus Eastern Cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii

Subfamily †Palaeolaginae[]

Tribe †Dasyporcina[]

Genus †Coelogenys needs text...

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