|any mammal of the primitive order Monotremata, of Australia and New Guinea: egg-laying toothless animals with a single opening (cloaca) for the passage of eggs or sperm, faeces, and urine. The group contains only the echidnas and the platypus|
|[C19: via New Latin from |
|monotreme (mŏn'ə-trēm') Pronunciation Key
Any of various mammals of the order Monotremata. Monotremes are the most primitive type of living mammal. They lay eggs and have a single opening (cloaca) for reproduction and elimination of wastes. The females have no teats but provide milk directly through the skin to their young. The only living monotremes are the duck-billed platypus, found in Australia and New Guinea, and the echidnas, found in New Guinea. Monotremes may have evolved already in the Jurassic Period, but the precise nature of their relationship to marsupials and placental mammals is disputed.