Monotremes | Monotremata
Monotremes, or Monotremata, are egg-laying mammals under the order Monotremata. Even so, they take care of the young by suckling them with milk. Monotremes are endemic to Australia and New Guinea. Their prominent physical features include hair on their bodies, humerus-oriented limbs, a complex pectoral girdle, birdlike skulls, and the absence of teeth. Monotremes are solitary and are the most primitive order of mammals with reptilian-like features, and a good sense of smell but poor eyesight. They are aquatic and bottom feeders with a body that is round and fat and covered by a short thick spine. They also possess a tube-like rostrum covered with leathery skin.
The unique thing about monotremes is their weird reproductive system as they lay eggs that are kept in the female’s body for nourishment. Besides, they lack teats. The young ones therefore feed on the milk secreted by the many pores on the female’s body. Besides, they also have unique shoulder girdles and sprawling limbs.
Monotremes lack teeth as their mouth is modified into a beak or snout. The only thing these primitive creatures share with humans is a lower jaw with a single bone, three middle ear bones, the ability to produce milk and nurture their young, and hair on their bodies. Besides, monotremes also have high metabolic rates.
Monotremes are carnivores, but not all of them feed on the same type of prey. Platypus, which is semi-aquatic, is carnivore-insectivore while others, like echidnas, feed on ground invertebrates. Monotremes come out of their hiding at night or early morning and evening to look for food. This makes them very secretive and hard to study.