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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Tachyglossidae), a family of oviparous mammals. There are two genera, consisting of the true, or shortbeaked, echidnas (Tachyglossus), with two species—the Australian (T. aculeatus) and Tasmanian (T. setosus) echidnas—and the New Guinea, or long-beaked, echidnas comprising three species. The best known is the Australian short-beaked echidna. The echidna’s body, attaining a length of 50 cm, is thickset, and its back is covered with spines. Its legs are short and thick, with strong claws adapted for digging. The rear legs have spurs, particularly well developed in males, which are connected with a poisonous gland by an internal duct. The tail is extremely short.

Echidnas possess a number of primitive characteristics: they lack teeth, and the female’s oviducts lead into a cloaca. Body temperature fluctuates between 22°C and 37°C, depending on the ambient temperature. In contrast to most mammals, which give birth to live young, the female echidna usually lays a single egg and carries it in a pouch on the abdomen. The developed offspring breaks the eggshell with an egg tooth, which then falls off. The young feeds by licking the thick excretion of the tubular milk glands. When the offspring begins to develop spines on its body (having attained a length of 8-9 cm), it leaves the mother’s pouch and hides in a small burrow dug by the mother. Echidnas live in thick underbrush, feeding on ants, termites, worms, and other invertebrates, which they extract with a long tongue covered with sticky saliva. The echidna is a nocturnal animal.


Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Acceleration-sensing instruments strapped onto short-beaked echidnas show they spend about 12 percent of their day excavating, researchers report in the Oct.
On 3 September, I was working in the same area as on 22 June and I saw two echidnas which were obviously together.
While there are numerous examples that support Seddon's claim (echidnas, possums and tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea to name a few) I believe Australian identity is significantly influenced by our flora and fauna (see for example, the use of wildlife in advertising or as mascots for international sporting events).
The spiny echidna (Zaglossus Attenborough), which dates back 150million years, has recently been sighted by tribes in the Cyclops Mountains of Papua New Guinea.
This on the Fodorean view should suffice for my acquiring the concept ECHIDNA. That is, assuming that we would not want to deny that concepts are got through reference-borrowing (and denying this would be implausible since it would entail that most of us don't have most of the concepts that, in fact, we do), hearing someone talk about echidnas should suffice for my acquiring the ability to token the symbol ECHIDNA such that (i) there is a nomological relation between being an echidna and being a cause of tokenings of ECHIDNA and (ii) the laws in virtue of which other properties (such as the property being the sound/echidna/) cause tokenings of ECHIDNA depend asymmetrically on the existence of the primary law specified in (i).
Like all mammals, the echidna is warmblooded and feeds its young with its milk.
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Captain Kangaroo in coat and cap takes off with his animal passengers, complete with heavy travel bags, soon after the ground crew of echidnas check out the plane.
The linking of this fossil to the platypus lineage would have meant that platypuses and echidnas diverged more than 112.5 million years ago, reinforcing the notion of monotremes as living fossils.
Two long-beaked echidnas - primitive egg-laying mammals - let the scientists pick them up and carry them off for study.