The native wildlife of North America was once numerous and diverse, but the spread of human settlement has resulted in contracting habitats and diminishing numbers. In general, the fauna of North America is similar to that of the northern areas of Europe and Asia. Notable large mammals include several kinds of bear, the largest being the grizzly; bighorn sheep; bison, now only in protected herds; caribou; moose, called elk in Europe; musk ox; and wapiti.
Large carnivores include the puma and, in southernmost regions, the jaguar; the wolf and its smaller relative, the coyote; and, in the far north, the polar bear. One species of marsupial, the common opossum, is indigenous to the continent. A few of the many reptiles are poisonous, including the coral snake, pit vipers such as the rattlesnake and copperhead, and the Gila monster and beaded lizard of the south-western United States and Mexico, the only poisonous lizards in the world. A great variety of finfish and shellfish live in the marine waters off North America, and many kinds of fish are found in its freshwater rivers and lakes. "North America" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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