Monotremes

Types of animal science: Reproduction, development

Fields of study: Biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, embryology, physiology, reproductive science

Monotremes represent an ancient developmental line of mammals. They retain many reptilian characteristics, including the laying of eggs. Monotremes are found primarily in Australia.

Principal Terms brood pouch: a temporary external pouch created by folding the skin of the abdomen together; used to carry young as they continue to develop cloaca: a bodily opening at the end of the gut into which both the waste disposal and reproductive systems open echidna: a long-snouted, insect eating, egg-laying mammal; also known as the spiny anteater monotreme: reptilelike mammals, distinguished from other mammals by the fact that they lay eggs and have a cloaca platypus: web-footed, duck-billed, semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal

The monotreme order of mammals is comprised of two families, Ornithorhinchidae and Tachyglossidae. The first family contains just one genus and species, that of the duck-billed platypus, while the second contains two genuses and two living species of echidnas (short-nosed and long-nosed). These animals have much of the conventional appearance of mammals, but they are also quite different in some respects from the rest of the mammals. Both the platypus and the echidnas lay eggs which are incubated and hatched outside the body of the mother.

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