Barton's or eastern long-nosed echidna (Zaglossus bartoni)
It differs from other long-nosed echidnas by having 5 claws on its fore feet and 4 on its hind feet. It is the largest monotreme and weighs 5-10 kg (11-22 lb). It is 60-100 cm (24-39 in) long and has no tail. It has dense black fur. It rolls into a spiny ball for defence. It can have large home ranges; one occupied 198 ha over two months. It feeds mainly on worms. The female lays eggs. A captive at London Zoo lived for 30 years. The echidna is listed as Critically Endangered and is on Appendix II of CITES, due to a suspected continuing population decline of at least 80% over the last three generations (45-50 years). Hunters say there have been declines in its area of occupancy and the species has been exploited due to hunting. It has been hunted to local extinction in densely populated and accessible regions of New Guinea, but may be more common in inaccessible areas. Tim Flannery says the subpopulations in the western half (mainly the central mountains of Papua, Indonesia) have largely gone extinct, but some in the east (Papua New Guinea) seem to be more secure. Populations are Decreasing. The echidna is heavily threatened by hunting for food by local people (a prime prey species) and by loss of habitat through conversion of suitable areas to cultivated land. A nickel mine has been proposed in the Wowo Gap area, which seems to support a good population of this species. The major populations are now largely confined to the higher reaches of the central massifs. The echidna has been recorded from some protected areas. There are four geographically isolated subspecies: Z. b. bartoni; Z. b. clunius; Z. b. smeenki and Z. b. diamondi. They differ mainly in body size.
Eastern long-beaked echidnas are found east of the Paniai Lakes region of New Guinea. They are found in the Central Cordillera (the central highlands) and in the Huon Peninsula, both mountain ranges in New Guinea. Though they have a relatively wide distribution across New Guinea, they are sparsely populated throughout much of this range. Population estimates are not known.
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
Eastern long-beaked echidnas are the largest living monotremes, usually weighing from 5 to 10 kilograms. They have long, dense black to dark brown fur and white spines that cover the entire dorsal surface of their body. Their spines can sometimes be obscured behind long fur. They have long, tubular rostra with an average length of 12.3 centimeters. Eastern long-beaked echidnas do not have teeth but they have a horny plate at the back of their mouth to help grind food. Both males and females have a cloaca: a single orifice for the passing of feces, urine, and eggs (in females) (Augee et al., 2006; Flannery and Groves, 1998). Eastern long-beaked echidnas are heterothermic endotherms; they depend on movement and shivering as a source of body heat. The lowest body temperature of a captive population was measured at 24.2 degrees Celsius. The highest body temperature was 34.2 degrees Celsius. The average body temperature of captive populations was in the low 30's. The basal metabolic rate was recorded at 24.41 kJ/hour (Grigg, 2003; McNab, 2008). Adults differ from the juvenile Z. bartoni in a variety of features. In the transition to adulthood, the sutures of the cranial bones close completely, the major basicranial foramina stay open but narrow with age, the rostrum lengthens, the posterior palate bones become more robust, and the narial opening becomes shorter and rounded posteriorly (Flannery and Groves, 1998). The presence of a spur sheath in Z. bartoni is indicative of a juvenile (Opiang, 2009; Rismiller, 1999).
The main morphological distinction between western long-beaked echidnas (Zaglossus bruijni) and eastern long-beaked echidnas is the difference in claw number on the forefoot. Eastern long-beaked echidnas have five claws on each forefoot, whereas western long-beaked echidnas have three to four claws on each forefoot, usually lacking claws on digits one and five. Cranial features also differ between the two species. The braincase of eastern long-beaked echidnas is as high as it is long, whereas western long-beaked echidnas never have braincases as high as they are long. Eastern long-beaked echidnas have smaller orbitotemporal fossae than western long-beaked echidnas and the posterior end of the palate is flattened in eastern long-beaked echidnas, but is a channel in western long-beaked echidnas. Eastern long-beaked echidnas usually have a cranium with a dorsal depression that lies between the rostrum and the braincase. Western long-beaked echidnas lack this feature. However, some eastern long-beaked echidnas lack the depression as well, so this feature is not diagnostic (Flannery and Groves, 1998).
There are four recognized subspecies, which exhibit substantial geographic variation. These subspecies are Z. bartoni bartoni, Z. bartoni clunius, Z. bartoni smeenki, and Z. bartoni diamondi. The subspecies differ in size, fur coloration/density, and geography. Based on cranial measurements, the smallest subspecies is Z. bartoni smeenki and the largest is Z. bartoni diamondi (Flannery and Groves, 1998). In terms of sexual dimorphism, males possess a spur on their ankle, which is lacking in females. This is often used for sex determination. However, some juvenile females possess the spur. Females are often larger than males, but there is not a significant difference in size. Female eastern long-beaked echidnas have significantly longer snouts than males (Opiang 2009).
Range mass: 5 to 16.5 kg.
Average mass: 6.5 kg.
Range length: 30 (low) cm.
Average length: 55.6 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes shaped differently; ornamentation
Eastern long-beaked echidnas have an expansive altitudinal range from sea level to 4150 meters. Their habitat is generally limited to the cooler, mountain summits of New Guinea. They inhabit tropical montane forests and sub-alpine and alpine grasslands. Montane rainforests (1000 to 3000 m) are rich in wildlife and thick with trees. At higher elevations, in the sub-alpine and alpine grasslands (3000 m or higher), there is less diversity of flora and fauna. Eastern long-beaked echidnas live in burrows underground or in dense vegetation. When underground, the dens are covered with little vegetation and are usually found on slopes because it is easier for Z. bartoni to dig into them.
Range elevation: 0 to 4150 m.
Average elevation: 800-1500 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
Eastern long-beaked echidnas are insectivores that forage at night and eat mostly earthworms and occasionally grubs.They have several adaptations for foraging, including a long snout and relatively large claws on the forefeet. They have a specific tongue adaptation for grabbing earthworms. There are three rows of sharp, spine-like structures at the back of its tongue, which enables them to more effectively grasp earthworms while foraging. The foraging method for obtaining grubs consists of tearing open logs with their claws to find the grubs and other “wood-boring” invertebrates. They dig for earthworms by using the combined effort of their snout and forelimbs. The method they use is called a “head press,” which is a probing technique in which they apply pressure to the wet soil, mostly from their long snout and partially from their forelimbs. The depression made by the head press creates a hole, which can be used to find earthworms. This foraging depression is larger and deeper than the one made by the short-beaked echidna.
Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Vermivore)
Eastern long-beaked echidnas have similar ecology to species such as Phalanger carmelitae, Pseudochirops corinnae, Uromys anak, and Anisomys imitator. These are all medium-sized mammals living in mid-upper montane regions. This suggests that they are filling the same insectivorous, medium-sized mammal niche. The foraging depressions they create could become resource traps. In turn, this could affect soil biochemistry and nutrient circulation. Though there are no known ectoparasites for Z. bartoni, there are several known for Tachyglossus, and Z. bartoni may be carriers for these as well. Some of these parasites include fleas from the genera Echidnophaga, Pulex, Bradiopsylla, Stephanocircus, and ticks from the genera Aponomma, Ixodes, Haemaphysalis, and Amblyomma.
Ecosystem Impact: soil aeration
The building of an underground den is a measure of predator avoidance in Z. bartoni. Risk of predation and human hunting is lowere because these animals are elusive and cryptic. Another adaptation for defense from predators is their spines. This provides an armored exterior as protection from predation. Thylacinus is an extinct genus of carnivorous mammal, the Tasmanian wolf, that lived in the mountains of Papua New Guinea until the Holocene. They may have been a native predator when they co-occurred. Today there are no known native predators of Z. bartoni. However, feral domestic dogs Canis lupus familiaris, introduced a few thousand years ago, are known to occasionally prey on Z. bartoni and humans sometimes hunt them.
- feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
- humans (Homo sapiens)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
Life History and Behavior
The skin on the outside of the rostrum has a large number of electroreceptors (around 2000), which allow it to detect electrical signals to better locate their prey in the wet soil during the night (Map of Life, 2012). There is no available information on communication between Z. bartoni individuals.
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical
The longest recorded lifespan is 30 years in captivity at the London Zoo. There is no doubt this species is particularly long-lived, especially for its size. A lifespan of 30 years is around double the lifespan that would be expected based on the body size of Z. bartoni.
Status: captivity: 30 (high) years.
Monotremes lack external genitalia; therefore an investigation of the cloaca and/or palpation of the penial sack is necessary for a robust verification of sex. When breeding, male penises protrude from the cloaca, which is seen as a sign of sexual activity. It has been suggested that Z. bartoni is reproductively active in April and May since females have been found lactating during these months. The mating system is not reported.
Due to the solitary and obscure nature of eastern long-beaked echidnas, details about their reproduction are not well known. However, according to researchers and native New Guinean people its reproduction is similar to that of western long-beaked echidnas and short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus species). Native people have said they give birth to one echidna at a time, which would be consistent with western long-beaked echidnas accounts. Since they have similar reproduction, it can be inferred that breeding is seasonal (April/May). Females lay the eggs and the eggs hatch around 10 days later. Juveniles stay in the female’s pouch for another 6 to 7 weeks until the spines grow in and the young are weaned after around seven months.
Breeding interval: Eastern long-beaked echidnas breed once yearly.
Breeding season: Breeding occurs around April or May.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average weaning age: 7 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous
Eastern long-beaked echidna females nurse and wean their young. Like other monotremes, mothers nurse young through pores connected to their mammary glands since they do not have nipples.
Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
As of 2011, the IUCN listed Zaglossus bartoni as a Critically Endangered species. This species is also listed on Appendix II of CITES. Population size has decreased by 80% over the last 45 to 50 years based on direct observation of their habitat. Though Z. bartoni lacks local native animal predators, the population is decreasing due to hunting and loss of habitat from the conversion of their habitat into agricultural land. Conservation management for Z. bartoni has been difficult due to the limited information on the ecology and breeding patterns of this species. The Papua New Guinea Institute of Biological Research has started a long-term conservation research project, headed by Muse Opiang. The goal is to illuminate the reproduction, ecology, and natural history of this species.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no known adverse effects of Z. bartoni on humans since their habitat is in areas with low population density.
Eastern long-beaked echidnas are hunted as a highly valued game species for native people in New Guinea due to its rarity and general inaccessibility. Their meat is considered a delicacy and echidna bodies can serve as “trophies” to native people.
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material
Eastern long-beaked echidna
The eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni), also known as Barton's long-beaked echidna, is one of three species from the genus Zaglossus to occur in New Guinea. It is found mainly in Papua New Guinea at elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 metres (6,600 and 9,800 ft).
The eastern long-beaked echidna can be distinguished from other members of the genus by the number of claws on the fore and hind feet: it has five claws on its fore feet and four on its hind feet. Its weight varies from 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to 22 lb); its body length ranges from 60 to 100 centimetres (24 to 39 in); it has no tail. It has dense black fur. The species is the largest monotreme and is slow-moving. It rolls into a spiny ball for defense.
All long-beaked echidnas were classified as a single species, until 1998 when Flannery published an article identifying several new species and subspecies. Three species were then recognized based on various attributes such as body size, skull morphology, and the number of toes on the front and back feet.
There are four recognized subspecies of Zaglossus bartoni :
- Z. bartoni bartoni
- Z. bartoni clunius
- Z. bartoni smeenki
- Z. bartoni diamondi
The population of each subspecies is geographically isolated. The subspecies are distinguished primarily by differences in body size.
Eastern long-beaked echidnas are mainly insect eaters, or insectivores. If you look at the physical appearance of this species of Long-Beaked Echidna, you would notice that it has a long snout and almost resembles a miniature anteater. This long snout proves essential for the Echidna’s survival because of its ability to get in between hard-to-reach places and scavenge for smaller insect organisms such as larvae and ticks. Along with this snout, they have a specific evolutionary adaptation in their tongues for snatching up various earthworms, which are its main type of food source.
Zaglossus bartoni habitats include tropical hill forests to sub-alpine forests, upland grasslands and scrub. The species has been found in locations up to an elevation of around 4,150 m. Today is it rare to find Zaglossus bartoni at sea level.
Ecology and Behavior
Humans are the main factor in diminishing populations of eastern long-beaked echidnas. Locals in areas surrounding regions that these organisms inhabit often prey upon them for food. Feral dogs are known to occasionally consume this species. These mammals dig burrows, providing some protection from predation.
The eastern long-beaked echidna is a member of the order Monotremata. Although monotremes have the some of the same mammal features such as hair hair and mammary glands, they do not give birth to live young, they lay eggs. Like birds and reptiles, monotremes have a single opening, the cloaca. The cloaca allows for the passage of urine and feces, the transmission of sperm, and the laying of eggs.
Little is actually known about the breeding behaviors of this animal, due to the difficulty of finding and tracking specimens. Unfortunately, the way the spines on the echidna lie make it difficult to attach tracking devices, in addition to the difficulty in finding the animals themselves, as they are mainly nocturnal.
|This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2009)|
- Groves, C. P. (2005). "Order Monotremata". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Leary, T., Seri, L., Flannery, T., Wright, D., Hamilton, S., Helgen, K., Singadan, R., Menzies, J., Allison, A., James, R., Aplin, K., Salas, L. & Dickman, C. (2008). Zaglossus bartoni. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as critically endangered.
- Flannery, T. F.; Groves, C. P. (Jan 1998). "A revision of the genus Zaglossus (Monotremata, Tachyglossidae), with description of new species and subspecies". 'Mammalia' 6 (3): 367–396. doi:10.1515/mamm.19188.8.131.527.
- Wilson, Don E. "Zaglossus bartoni". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "Zaglossus bartoni (Eastern Long-beaked Echidna)". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
- "Monotreme". Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition. EBSCOhost. 2013. ISBN 9780787650155.
- Opiang, Muse (April 2009). "Home Ranges, Movement, and Den Use in Long-Beaked Echidnas, Zaglossus Bartoni, From Papua New Guinea". Journal of Mammalogy (American Society of Mammalogists) 9 (2): 340–346. doi:10.1644/08-MAMM-A-108.1.
- Flannery, T.F. and Groves, C.P. 1998. A revision of the genus Zaglossus (Monotremata, Tachyglossidae), with description of new species and subspecies. Mammalia, 62(3): 367–396
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