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Monotremes (from the Greek Word, monos 'single' + trema 'hole', referring to the cloaca) are mammals that lay eggs (Prototheria) instead of giving birth to live young like marsupials (Metatheria) and placental mammals (Eutheria).
They are conventionally treated as comprising a single order Monotremata, though a recent classification proposes to divide them into the orders Platypoda (the Platypus along with its fossil relatives) and Tachyglossa (the echidnas). The entire grouping is also traditionally placed into a subclass Prototheria, which was extended to include several fossil orders but these are no longer seen as constituting a natural group allied to monotreme ancestry. A controversial hypothesis now relates the monotremes to a different assemblage of fossil mammals in a clade termed Australosphenida.
|Includes CC-BY-SA content from Wikipedia's Monotreme article (authors)|