Aug 19, 2009

Of Spines, Chickens, and Ants

What lays chickens like an egg, has spines like a porcupine, has a pouch like a wombat, and an appetite and tongue like an anteater? You guessed it: Echidna, the mate of Typhon and daughter of Ceto, who gave birth to Cerberus, Chimera, Sphynx, Hydra, and others...

...wait, I've got my mythology and biology crossed...

Echidna is an Australian creature which comes in both long-beaked and short-beaked varieties. They are powerful diggers and are the bane of ants in the scrublands they call their home (let's face it: ants have it coming). The female echidna lays a single, grape-sized egg once a year. She rolls the egg into her pouch and ten days later gives birth to a puggle. Thus is born the next generation of befuddling beasts.

Thanks for the photo, David.

Photo source: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo via BudgetTravel.com

7 comments:

LibrarianJessica said...

Cute cute CUTE!

Ellen said...

That might be the most adorable thing I have ever seen! I am wondering if the quills are as dangerous as they are on the porcupine, since the handler is not wearing any gloves. What a great addition to your next picnic!!!

Anonymous said...

"What lays chickens like an egg"? heh

The three Anoneers said...

Ellen- Unlike porcupines', echidna spines don't come off. I still wouldn't want to get ... stabbed? by them, but I guess you just have to be careful.

Anonymous said...

Although their spines are not as bad as a porcupine's, the male Echidna, like the Platipus, has venomous spines on it's hind legs.

Pamela Fox said...

I witnessed an echidna waddling along in the Australian outback (Adelaide, South Australia), and it was the most adorable waddle ever.

Amanda said...

Something else to note about this unusual creature is that the males have a four headed penis. When mating, two heads will function while the other half remained shut down, and the next time he mates, he'll use the other half, vice versa.
Ah, Australia...