The chilly origins of Australia’s egg-laying mammals

Australia’s mysterious monotremes are the world’s only living, egg-laying mammals. Today, they comprise just two species: the echidna and the platypus.

But these strange creatures are the last survivors of a much larger and more diverse set of species that once roamed the southern continents.

Now, a team of scientists, headed up by Australian Museum (AM) Chief Scientist Kristofer Helgen and AM honorary associate Tim Flannery, has unravelled the monotremes’ origin story, tracing them back to the chilly polar forests of an ancient world.

The research, published in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology, involved examining every significant monotreme fossil currently known, to chart their history and evolution. 

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