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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 mammals represent the only living Synapsida, which together with the Sauropsida form the Amniota clade.The largest orders are the rodents, bats and Soricomorpha (shrews and allies).The next three biggest orders, depending on the biological classification scheme used, are the Primates (apes and monkeys), the Cetartiodactyla (whales and even-toed ungulates), and the Carnivora (cats, dogs, seals, and allies).Most mammals are intelligent, with some possessing large brains, self-awareness and tool use.Mammals can communicate and vocalize in several different ways, including the production of ultrasound, scent-marking, alarm signals, singing, and echolocation.While mammal classification at the family level has been relatively stable, several contending classifications regarding the higher levels—subclass, infraclass and order, especially of the marsupials—appear in contemporaneous literature.

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