One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A primitive mammal that lays large yolky eggs and has a common opening for the urogenital and digestive systems. Monotremes are now restricted to Australia and New Guinea, and comprise the platypus and the echidnas.
- ‘Placental and marsupial mammals are more closely related to one another than to the third living group of mammals, the monotremes.’
- ‘There are only three living monotremes, the duck-billed platypus and two species of echidna, or ‘spiny anteaters’, such as the one shown at right.’
- ‘The Australian fossil record of monotremes also includes some quite good Miocene and Pleistocene fossils of giant echidnas.’
- ‘Many of the comprehensive, algorithm-based analyses place multituberculates within the crown group of living mammals, in some cases tentatively united with monotremes.’
- ‘Molecular evidence now suggests that the marsupials and the monotremes branched off much earlier than the placentals did and that they are therefore the closer relatives.’
Mid 19th century: from mono- ‘single’ + Greek trēma ‘hole’.
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