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[mon-uh-treem] /ˈmɒn əˌtrim/
any animal of the Monotremata, the most primitive order of mammals, characterized by certain birdlike and reptilian features, as hatching young from eggs, and having a single opening for the digestive, urinary, and genital organs, comprising only the duckbill and the echidnas of Australia and New Guinea.
Origin of monotreme
1825-35; < French monotrème < New Latin monotrema, assumed singular of Monotremata, neuter plural of monotrematus monotrematous Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for monotreme


any mammal of the primitive order Monotremata, of Australia and New Guinea: egg-laying toothless animals with a single opening (cloaca) for the passage of eggs or sperm, faeces, and urine. The group contains only the echidnas and the platypus
Derived Forms
monotrematous (ˌmɒnəʊˈtriːmətəs) adjective
Word Origin
C19: via New Latin from mono- + Greek trēma hole
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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monotreme in Science
Any of various mammals of the order Monotremata. Monotremes are the most primitive type of living mammal. They lay eggs and have a single opening (cloaca) for reproduction and elimination of wastes. The females have no teats but provide milk directly through the skin to their young. The only living monotremes are the duck-billed platypus, found in Australia and New Guinea, and the echidnas, found in New Guinea. Monotremes may have evolved already in the Jurassic Period, but the precise nature of their relationship to marsupials and placental mammals is disputed.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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