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Scientists discover that for Australia the long-beaked echidna may not be a thing of the past
Date:1/2/2013

, of such an iconic animal, with such clear documentation from such an unexpected place, is even more exciting."

Long-beaked echidnas are known as monotremes―a small and primitive order of mammals that lay eggs rather than give birth to live young. The platypus, the short-beaked echidna, and the three species of long-beaked echidna (Western, Eastern and Sir David Attenborough's) are the only monotremes that still exist. The platypus is found only in eastern Australia, the short-beaked echidna is found in Australia and New Guinea, and the long-beaked echidnas were previously known as living animals only from the island of New Guinea. Long-beaked echidnas, which grow to twice the size of the platypus or the short-beaked echidna, are beach-ball sized mammals covered in coarse blackish-brown hair and spines. They use their long, tubular snout to root for invertebrates in the forests and meadows of New Guinea. Among many peculiar attributes, reproduction is one of the most unique―females lay a single leathery egg directly into their pouch where it hatches in about 10 days.

The re-examined specimen in London reveals that the species was reproducing in Australia at least until the early 20th century. It was collected in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia by naturalist John T. Tunney in 1901, on a collecting expedition for the private museum of Lord L. Walter Rothschild in England. Despite collecting many species of butterflies, birds and mammals (some new to science at the time), no full report on his specimens has ever been published. The collect
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Contact: John Gibbons
GibbonsJP@si.edu
202-674-3434
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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Scientists discover that for Australia the long-beaked echidna may not be a thing of the past
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