The New Gresham Encyclopedia

The New Gresham Encyclopedia

Volume 4, Part 2: Ebert to Estremadura

Published

Excerpt: -kid'na), a genus of Australian toothless mammals, in size and general appearance resembling a large hedgehog, excepting that the spines are longer and the muzzle is protracted and slender, with a small aperture at the extremity for the protraction of a long flexible tongue. The habits of the Echidna are nocturnal; it burrows, having short strong legs with five toes, and feeds on insects, which it catches by protruding its long sticky tongue. It is nearly allied to the Ornithorhynchus, the two forming a peculiar class of animals, having in their structure some peculiarities at once of mammals, birds, and reptiles. In 1884 it was found that, as Geoffrey St. Hilaire had suspected, the Echidna, the closely related Proechidna of New Guinea, and the Ornithorhynchus constitute the lowest sub-class of mammals, the Prototheria or Monotremata, which present many reptilian characters. They possess a cloaca into which the intestine and urinogenital ducts open and are oviparous. During the breeding season a temporary pou