Echidna: Extraordinary Egg-Laying Mammal (Australian Natural by Michael Augee, Brett Gooden, Anne Musser

By Michael Augee, Brett Gooden, Anne Musser

The echidna is likely one of the world’s so much amazing creatures. it's a dwelling fossil whose family members have been strolling the earth over a hundred million years in the past. just like the platypus, it's a mammal that lays eggs. And, like any mammals, it has fur and produces milk. This publication describes the echidna’s way of life and the variations that experience made it such a success. It attracts at the most recent learn into those unknown creatures, overlaying their evolution, anatomy, senses, replica, behaviour, feeding conduct and metabolism. The authors show a few interesting new findings, displaying how echidnas are masters in their setting, and never easily a few kind of mammal ‘test version’ that went unsuitable. a last bankruptcy on conservation comprises info on captive nutrition and administration.

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In these features monotremes are similar to advanced mammal-like therapsid 36 Echidna: Extraordinary egg-laying mammal reptiles and early Jurassic mammals. It is remarkable that so many archaic features can still be discerned – some nearly unchanged – in the monotreme body plan that is perhaps 200 million years old. However, over that 200million-year span monotremes have evolved many unique adaptations that overlie these archaic features. Most anatomists and palaeontologists agree that monotremes, therefore, show a mosaic of primitive and specialised features, as did many Mesozoic mammals.

Echidnas lack jugals although platypuses possess these small bones. Skeletal anatomy 35 echidnas have become established and are the common names recommended for Tachyglossus and Zaglossus respectively by the Australian Mammal Society. We will follow this convention for the common names, but we will refer to the anatomical structure itself as the ‘snout’. Spines or quills? The fur coat (pelage) of echidnas displays a gradation from fine hairs to sharp, keratinised spines. All echidnas have spines, although they are much more numerous and obvious in the short-beaked echidna than they are in the long-beaked echidna.

Fossil finds over the past decade show that the non-therian multituberculates and triconodonts, and archaic therian mammals (such as symmetrodonts), all had a more mobile and more advanced shoulder girdle than monotremes do. The retention of this rigid girdle in monotremes, particularly by the fossorial echidnas, probably reflects its utility in providing a strong and stable superstructure for the phenomenally strong forelimb musculature used in digging. The mechanics of this adaptation are discussed in Chapter 8.

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