Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Echidna's Sex Life Under Study

Date:
August 28, 2007
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
Scientists will study the genetic makeup of one of Australia's most iconic animals, the echidna, to give an unprecedented insight into their sex life and behaviour. There are only two kinds of monotremes in the world, echidnas and platypuses, and they both live only in Australia, Tasmania, or New Guinea.

Dr Frank Grützner
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Adelaide

A University of Adelaide-led project will study the genetic makeup of one of Australia's most iconic animals, the echidna, to give an unprecedented insight into their sex life and behaviour.

World echidna expert Dr Peggy Rismiller and geneticist Dr Frank Grützner will collaborate with the Monarto and Adelaide Zoos and South Australian Museum to learn more about these unique egg-laying mammals known as monotremes.

There are only two kinds of monotremes in the world, echidnas and platypuses, and they both live only in Australia, Tasmania, or New Guinea.

Dr Grützner says the project will look at the basic ecology of echidnas as well as their genetic and reproductive makeup, drawing new information from a unique concentration of world class monotreme experts.

"We want to integrate state-of-the-art animal tracking and molecular genetic techniques that we have established in the platypus to give us an in-depth insight into the behaviour and ecology of the echidna. We plan to grow cell lines from individual echidnas so we can develop genetic fingerprints," Dr Grützner says.

"This will, for the first time, give us definitive proof of which males are reproductively successful."

Scientists believe the echidna and its cousin, the platypus, may give us invaluable insights into the functions of human genes.

One has to go back 160 million years to find the last common ancestor between humans and the platypus, the earliest known branch in the mammalian lineage. It is thought the echidna diverged from the platypus after 25 million years.

"Evolution filters out important genes," Dr Grützner says. "By studying these monotremes we can probably find the genes that play a crucial role in our own development.

"We have such unique mammals in the echidna and platypus. They are exclusive to Australia, which allows us to lead monotreme research around the world. We have already developed very high-profile collaborations with the United States and Europe."

The genetics of the platypus have been studied extensively in recent years and scientists are now looking to the echidna, a more accessible species, for evolutionary answers.

"Keeping and breeding the platypus has been a huge problem. In this respect the echidna is a much better choice. Echidnas are also found throughout Australia, whereas platypuses are found only in eastern Australia."

Working together on the echidna project are Dr Grützner from the University's School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, Dr Peggy Rismiller from Anatomical Science, Dr Greg Johnston from the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia and Professor Steve Donnellan from the South Australian Museum.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Adelaide. "Echidna's Sex Life Under Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823182248.htm>.
University of Adelaide. (2007, August 28). Echidna's Sex Life Under Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823182248.htm
University of Adelaide. "Echidna's Sex Life Under Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823182248.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins