- 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.
Origin of echidna
Examples from the Web for echidna
Echidna was a bloodthirsty monster, half maiden, half serpent.Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome
The Ornithorhyncus has fur, the Echidna has spines, with hairs between them.Stories of the Universe: Animal Life
Man-serpent, therefore, in Dante, as Echidna is woman-serpent.Modern Painters, Volume V (of 5)
In Ornithorhynchus the zygomatic arch is much stouter than in Echidna.
In Echidna the carpus is broad, the scaphoid and lunar are united and there is no centrale.
- any of the spine-covered monotreme mammals of the genera Tachyglossus of Australia and Zaglossus of New Guinea: family Tachyglossidae. They have a long snout and claws for hunting ants and termitesAlso called: spiny anteater
Word Origin and History for echidna
Australian egg-laying hedgehog-like mammal, 1847, usually explained as from Greek ekhidna "snake, viper," from ekhis "snake," from PIE *angwhi- "snake, eel" (cf. Norwegian igle, Old High German egala, German Egel "leech," Latin anguis "serpent, snake").
But this sense is difficult to reconcile with this animal (unless it is a reference to the ant-eating tongue), and the name seems more properly to belong to Latin echinus, Greek ekhinos "sea-urchin," originally "hedgehog" (in Greek also "sharp points"), which Watkins explains as "snake-eater," from ekhis "snake."