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The echidna, an example of a prototherian


From Prototheria, from Ancient Greek πρωτο- (prōto-, proto-, first) + θηρίον (thēríon, beast); +‎ -ian.


  • IPA(key): /ˌpɹoʊtɵˈθɪəɹi.ən/


prototherian (comparative more prototherian, superlative most prototherian)

  1. Belonging or pertaining to the subclass Prototheria of monotremes.
    • 1889, Henry Alleyne Nicholson and Richard Lydekker, A Manual of Palæontology, third edition, William Blackwood and Sons, page 1290:
      It is evident that the Edentates are widely separated from all other existing Eutherians; and Professor W. K. Parker, in view of the tendency to a variation in the number of cervical vertebræ and other features, has suggested a separate origin from a Prototherian stock.
    • 1970, William A. Clemens, "Mesozoic Mammalian Evolution", Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, volume 1, page 363:
      In his classification of prototherian mammals Hopson (31) queried the allocation of Haramiyidae to the Multituberculata and suggested that multituberculates were derived from a morganucodontid ancestry.
    • 2000, Monroe W. Strickberger, Evolution, third edition, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, ↑ISBN, pages 446–447:
      […]the modern remaining prototherian lines are the Australian and New Guinean monotremes, egg-laying mammals now represented by the grub- and shrimp-eating platypus (Ornithorhyncus) and ant-eating echidna (Tachyglossus and Zaglossus).


prototherian (plural prototherians)

  1. Any of the egg-laying mammals of the subclass Prototheria; a monotreme.
    • 1999, George A. Feldhamer, Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology, McGraw-Hill, ↑ISBN, page 192:
      Monotremes (prototherians), which include the duck-billed platypus, and short- and long-beaked echidnas, have a cloaca—a single opening for the fecal, urinary, and reproductive tracts.