'Monotremes' Subclass Prototheria
Monotremes occur only in Australia and New Guinea.
There are only three species; two types of echidna, and the platypus.
The oldest remains of a monotreme have been found in South America, so historically they have occurred, and perhaps even evolved, outside of the Australasian region (Strahan 1995).
Both types of monotremes generally feed on invertebrate, of which they can detect their electromagnetic impulses with sensitive bills.
- Both the echidnas and the platypus lack real, developed teeth, and instead have horny pads in between which they grind their food.
- The males of monotremes develop spurs on the back leg, and in the platypus this becomes quite venomous in the breeding season.
- Monotremes are most distinguished from the other mammals by the fact that they lay eggs.
- Young are poorly developed after hatching and at a certain age left behind in the burrow (Strahan 1995).
- These young monotremes are called 'puggles'.
Script: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide