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(echidna), a genus of egg-laying mammals of the family Echidnidae. The body is 45–77 cm long and weighs 5–10 kg. The tail is rudimentary. The anterior part of the head is elongated into a long “beak.” The back and sides of the body are covered with needles measuring 3–5 cm long. There are three species, distributed in New Guinea. They lay one to three eggs, which they carry in a pouch on the abdomen. Their numbers are small; protective measures are needed.