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Extraordinary Egg-Laying Mammal

Australian Natural History Series

Michael Augee  
Brett Gooden  
Anne Musser  

Colour photographs, Glossary, Bibliography, Index
136 pages
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

This book is no longer available in print.

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The echidna is one of the world’s most extraordinary creatures. It is a living fossil whose relatives were walking the earth over 100 million years ago. Like the platypus, it is a mammal that lays eggs. And, like all mammals, it has fur and produces milk.

This book describes the echidna’s lifestyle and the adaptations that have made it so successful. It draws on the latest research into these strange creatures, covering their evolution, anatomy, senses, reproduction, behaviour, feeding habits and metabolism. The authors reveal some fascinating new findings, showing how echidnas are masters of their environment, and not simply some sort of mammal ‘test model’ that went wrong. A final chapter on conservation includes information on captive diet and management.


  • Contains new and updated material on biology, behaviour and conservation
  • Significantly expanded from the authors’ 1993 book: Echidnas of Australia and New Guinea
  • Outstanding illustrations from artist, Anne Musser

1. The monotremes
2. Evolution
3. Skeletal anatomy
4. The brain
5. Senses
6. Reproduction
7. Behaviour
8. Food and feeding
9. Metabolism
10. Conservation and management

  View an extract from Echidna: Extraordinary Egg-laying Mammal. 

 Natural history enthusiasts; amateur and professional zoologists; and students. 

 "This is among my favourite natural history books about any mammals. Anyone with an interest in mammalian evolution, whether professional scientists or amateur natural historians, should get a copy of this delightful book."
Zhe-Xi Luo, Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 2007

"The authors should be congratulated for a beautifully and carefully crafted revision, which will continue to stimulate interest in these wonderful creatures."
Ken Ashwell, The Quarterly Review of Biology, December 2007

"A must for anyone interested in mammalian biology and evolutionary history. Highly recommended."
F.S. Szalay, University of New Mexico, Choice Reviews Online

"A fascinating read for those interested in learning more about the intriguing world of monotremes."
Land for Wildlife Southeast Queensland, August 2006

"An easy to read style and contains some great illustrations."
Peggy Rismiller, Australian Zoologist, Vol. 33, No. 3, June 2006

 Michael Augee PhD FRZS has had a life-long fascination with echidnas. He is co-author of Echidnas of Australia and New Guinea (UNSW Press, 1993), and the co-author of Biology of Australia and New Zealand (Pearson, 1999). Formerly Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of New South Wales, he is currently Director of the Wellington Caves Fossil Studies Centre.

Brett Gooden PhD, MD is co-author of the first edition of Echidnas of Australia and New Guinea and the author of Spaceport Australia. He is noted for his research into the fundamentals of diving physiology, and, together with Michael Augee, has published papers in echidna physiology and field biology.

Anne Musseris an artist and palaeontologist, specialising in the early evolution of monotremes. She has illustrated many books including the first edition of Echidnas of Australia and New Guinea.

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