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Eastern Long-beaked Echidna
Animal echidna 3
Information
Common Name Barton's Long-beaked Echidna
Range Papua New Guinea
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Monotremata
Family Tachyglossidae
Genus Zaglossus
Species Zaglossus bartoni
Conservation Status
CRSpecies
Critically Endangered

The Eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni), also known as Barton's long-beaked echidna, is a species of long-beaked echidna found mainly on Papua New Guinea at elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 metres (6,600 and 9,800 ft).

Taxonomy

Description

The eastern long-beaked echidna can be distinguished from other members of the genus by the number of claws on the fore and hind feet: it has five claws on its fore feet and four on its hind feet. Its weight varies from 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to 22 lb); its body length ranges from 60 to 100 centimetres (24 to 39 in); it has no tail. It has dense black fur. The species is the largest monotreme and is slow-moving. It rolls into a spiny ball for defense.

History

All long-beaked echidnas were classified as a single species, until 1998 when Flannery published an article identifying several new species and subspecies. Three species were then recognized based on various attributes such as body size, skull morphology, and the number of toes on the front and back feet.

Subspecies

There are four recognized subspecies of the eastern long-beaked echidna.

Zaglossus bartoni bartoni
Zaglossus bartoni clunius
Zaglossus bartoni smeenki
Zaglossus bartoni diamondi

The population of each subspecies is geographically isolated. The subspecies are distinguished primarily by differences in body size.

Diet

Eastern long-beaked echidnas are mainly insect eaters, or insectivores. If you look at the physical appearance of this species of Long-Beaked Echidna, you would notice that it has a long snout and almost resembles a miniature anteater. This long snout proves essential for the Echidna’s survival because of its ability to get in between hard-to-reach places and scavenge for smaller insect organisms such as larvae and ticks. Along with this snout, they have a specific evolutionary adaptation in their tongues for snatching up various earthworms, which are its main type of food source.

Habitat

Eastern long-beaked echidnas habitats include tropical hill forests to sub-alpine forests, upland grasslands and scrub. The species has been found in locations up to an elevation of around 4,150 m. Today is it rare to find Zaglossus bartoni at sea level.

Conservation

The eastern long-beaked echidna is currently listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Deforestation is one of the factors leading to the decline of this species.

Ecology and Behavior

Predators

Humans are the main factor in diminishing populations of eastern long-beaked echidnas. Locals in areas surrounding regions that these organisms inhabit often prey upon them for food. Feral dogs are known to occasionally consume this species. These mammals dig burrows, providing some protection from predation.

Reproduction

The eastern long-beaked echidna is a member of the order Monotremata. Although monotremes have the some of the same mammal features such as hair hair and mammary glands, they do not give birth to live young, they lay eggs. Like birds and reptiles, monotremes have a single opening, the cloaca. The cloaca allows for the passage of urine and feces, the transmission of sperm, and the laying of eggs.

Little is actually known about the breeding behaviors of this animal, due to the difficulty of finding and tracking specimens. Unfortunately, the way the spines on the echidna lie make it difficult to attach tracking devices, in addition to the difficulty in finding the animals themselves, as they are mainly nocturnal.

Monotermes

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