The long-nosed echidna is endemic to New Guinea (Gregory, 1997).
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
As monotremes, the long-nosed echidnas possess one body cavity for the external openings of their urinary, digestive, and reproductive organs. The species has a very short tail relative to its average body length of 450-775 mm. The core body is covered in course brown or black hair that often hides the spines covering the back. Zaglossus has a pronounced downcurved snout, which accounts for two-thirds of the length of its head. Lack of teeth in the species is compensated by rows of spikes/horny teeth-like projections on the enormous tongues of the animals. Long-nosed echidnas generally have clawed feet, the front ones important in digging for food. Within the species there is variation in the number of clawed digits on each foot. Many have claws only on the middle three of the five digits present; others have claws on each digit. The males of the species can be distinguished from the females by the presence of a spur on the inner surface of each hind leg near the foot. (Augee, 1993; Gregory, 1997; Griffiths, 1968; Walker, 1991).
Range mass: 5 to 16.5 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average basal metabolic rate: 6.493 W.
Habitat and Ecology
Long-nosed echidnas primarily inhabitate mountain forests, although some live on highly elevated alpine meadows. The species does not live along the coastal plains (Augee, 1993; Walker, 1991).
Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest ; mountains
The diet of Zaglossus bruijni consists almost exclusively of earthworms. When earthworms are eaten, they are positioned by the echidna to go front first into the snout. The powerful tongue of the long-nosed echidna protrudes a small distance and wraps around the front of the worm. While the worm is pulled into the mouth, the echidna's tongue holds the worm in place with its spikes. Termites and other insect larvae are also eaten, they may eat ants.
(Augee, 1993; Walker, 1991)
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 31.0 years.
Status: captivity: 30.7 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Little is known about reproduction in Zaglossus, although they are believed to be similar in reproductive pattern to their sister species, the short-nosed echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). Frequency of breeding, courtship rituals, and possible male parental care are unknown for both echidna species. It is thought that the breeding season for the long-nosed echidna is in July. A captive Z. bruijni specimen lived for a record 30 years and 8 months.
(Gregory, 1997; Walker, 1991).
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average number of offspring: 1.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Zaglossus bruijni
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Zaglossus bruijni
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Endangered (EN)
- 1994Endangered (E)
- 1990Vulnerable (V)
- 1988Vulnerable (V)
- 1986Vulnerable (V)
- 1982Vulnerable (V)
Listed in appendix II of CITES, Z. bruijni is categorized as vulnerable by IUCN. Hunting with trained dogs by the New Guinean people as well as loss of natural forest habitat due to farming are the primary causes for the species' endangerment. Data tabulated in 1982 indicated that only 1.6 Zaglossus existed per square kilometer of suitable habitat. If the data were accurate, about 300,000 long-nosed echidnas were in existence then, and the number has dropped since that time (Walker, 1991).
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: critically endangered
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Long-nosed echidnas can destroy gardens with their burrowing. In fact, this is seldom a problem. (Gregory, 1997)
The meat of Zaglossus is a popular food source in New Guinea (Augee, 1993; Walker, 1991).
Western long-beaked echidna
The western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni) is one of the four extant echidnas and one of three species of Zaglossus that occur in New Guinea. Originally described as Tachyglossus bruijni, this is the type species of Zaglossus.
The western long-beaked echidna is present in the Bird's Head Peninsula and Foja Mountains of West Papua and Papua provinces, Indonesia, respectively, in regions of elevation between 1,300 and 4,000 metres (4,300 and 13,100 ft); it is absent from the southern lowlands and north coast. Its preferred habitats are alpine meadow and humid montane forests. Unlike the short-beaked echidna, which eats ants and termites, the long-beaked species eats earthworms. The long-beaked echidna is also larger than the short-beaked species, reaching up to 16.5 kilograms (36 lb); the snout is longer and turns downward; and the spines are almost indistinguishable from the long fur. It is distinguished from the other Zaglossus species by the number of claws on the fore and hind feet: three (rarely four). It is the largest extant monotreme. In addition it is one of the very few mammals that lays eggs and feeds its offspring with milk.
The species is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN; numbers have decreased due to human activities including habitat loss and hunting. The long-beaked echidna is a delicacy, and although commercial hunting of the species has been banned by the Indonesian and Papua New Guinean governments, traditional hunting is permitted.
In January 2013, an expedition led by Conservation International reported finding a population of the mammals as part of what they described as a "lost world" of wildlife in the Foja Mountains of Papua Province, Indonesia.
A specimen collected in 1901 by John T. Tunney, later identified by Helgen et al. (2012), might prove that, in addition to New Guinea, the species inhabited the northern part of Western Australia (Kimberley) at least as recently as the beginning of the 20th century.
- 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. 2. 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 bruijnii. 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
- ‘Lost World’ of wildlife found - World environment - MSNBC.com
- Kristofer M. Helgen, Roberto Portela Miguez, James Kohen and Lauren Helgen (2012). "Twentieth century occurrence of the Long-Beaked Echidna Zaglossus bruijnii in the Kimberley region of Australia". ZooKeys 255: 103–132. doi:10.3897/zookeys.255.3774.
- Augee, M and Gooden, B. 1993. Echidnas of Australia and New Guinea. Australian National History Press ISBN 978-0-86840-046-4
- 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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