Echidnas Don't Suck - But Their Ancestors Did

July 20, 2018
These baby echidnas, like their platypus cousins, lick or slurp their milk from their mother's skin.  PHOTO: BEN NOTTIDGE/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

A new study published in Science by Professor Emeritus Alfred Crompton and his faculty assistant, Catherine Musinsky, suggests suckling was part of the original mammalian package. The ability to suckle milk is a defining characteristic of mammals. Yet, one branch of mammals, egg-laying monotremes, which include the platypus and echidna, do not. Monotreme babies instead lap or slurp milk from patches on the mother's skin.  Their work was also presented at the 5th International Paleontology Conference in Paris, France.

Image: Ben Nottidge/Alamy Stock Photo
See also: Faculty News, 2018