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A new species has been discovered. The animal is a vertebrate, approximately 18-24...

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dgault11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted July 17, 2013 at 3:39 PM via web

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A new species has been discovered. The animal is a vertebrate, approximately 18-24 inches in length. Members of this species are covered in scales and are known to lay shelled eggs. Dissection has also shown that this animal possesses a four-chambered heart. Its skeleton is shown below, but the skull has been omitted. An image of the skeleton is shown below. A sample of the skull could not be obtained, but some characteristics of the skeletal structure of the head were observed: the skull lacks a sclerotic ring (bony ring which supports the eyeball), but possesses a secondary bony palate.

Identify this species’ proper kingdom, phylum, etc and give this species a full classification. This may require a bit of extra research beyond the background materials. Justify your choice and also explain how you could use genetic evidence to verify your conclusion. (Note: The discoverer/ classifier of a new life form typically assigns a species name of their own choosing. Be creative!)

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jerichorayel | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted July 18, 2013 at 6:13 PM (Answer #1)

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In order to classify the unknown species, let us first dissect the observed characteristic until we can come up with a good taxonomical identification.

Since it is a vertebrate, it is classified under

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata

Many animals are egg-laying and scaly so we will consider these characteristics later. 

Animals that have four chambered heart are bird and mammals. We can disregard the other animal classes. This leaves us to two options:

Class: Aves or Mammalia

Sclerotic ring is present in many vertebrates except mammals and some species of crocodiles. This characteristic can disregard birds as class and therefore the unknown animal is a mammal.

Class: Mammalia

Secondary bony palate is a structure that divides the oral cavity from the nasal cavity. This is present only in mammals. 

We know that it is an egg-laying mammal. They can be classified under Order Monotremata. Two suborders currently exist under order monotremes. They are the suborder Platypoda (the platypus) and suborder Tachyglossa (the echidnas). Both can fit to the qualifications. Since the unknown species has scales, it is more related to the spines of the echidna rather than with the fur of platypus. 

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