/i kid"neuh/, n.Also called spiny anteater. any of several insectivorous monotremes of the genera Tachyglossus, of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea, and Zaglossus, of New Guinea, that have claws and a slender snout and are covered with coarse hair and long spines.[ < NL (1798), orig. a genus name; L: serpent, Echidna a mythical creature which gave birth to the Hydra and other monsters < Gk échidna, akin to échis viper]
* * *any of three species of egg-laying mammals (monotremes) of the family Tachyglossidae.Echidnas are stocky and virtually tailless. They have strong-clawed feet and spines on the upper part of the brownish body. The snout is narrow, the mouth very small, and the tongue long and sticky for feeding on termites, ants, and other invertebrates in the soil. The short-beaked echidna common in Australia and Tasmania is 12–21 in. (30–53 cm) long. Two species of long-beaked echidna live only on the island of New Guinea. They are 18–31 in. (45–78 cm) long and have a prominent downward-pointing snout. They are valued for their meat and are declining in numbers. Echidnas exude milk from mammary openings on the skin, and the young lap it up. See also anteater; pangolin; hedgehog.
* * *Greek“Snake”monster of Greek mythology, half woman, half serpent. Her parents were either the sea deities Phorcys and Ceto (according to Hesiod's Theogony) or Tartarus and Gaia (in the account of the mythographer Apollodorus); in Hesiod, Tartarus and Gaia are the parents of Echidna's husband, Typhon. Among Echidna's progeny by the 100-headed Typhon, were Ladon (the dragon who protected the Golden Apples of the Hesperides), another dragon who protected the Golden Fleece, the Hydra, the goatlike Chimera, and the infernal hounds Orthus and Cerberus. The sphinx and the Nemean lion, both sired by Orthus, were also among her offspring.
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