Platypus and short-nosed echidnas are protected by law in Australia. Platypus are fairly plentiful in their somewhat limited area. Short-nosed echidnas are plentiful and widespread, because they can live in many different types of biome. Long-nosed echidnas are Endangered, and under serious threat in New Guinea from loss of habitat and being hunted for food with the help of trained dogs.
Probably the most serious problem facing these animals is being hunted, killed, and eaten by carnivorous mammals introduced to Australia and New Guinea by Europeans, such as dogs, cats, rats, and foxes. Native animals prey on the monotremes as well, including some of the larger lizards and the dingo, a breed of dog that the ancestors of the Aborigines brought with them when they colonized Australia thousands of years ago.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Augee, M. L., ed. Platypus and Echidnas. Australia: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, 1992.
Moyal, Ann. Platypus: the Extraordinary Story of How a Curious Creature Baffled the World. Australia: Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd, 2002.
Pascual, Rosendo, et al. "First Discovery of Monotremes in South America." Nature 356, no. 6371 (April 1992): 704–706.
Krubitzer, L. "What Can Monotremes Tell Us About Brain Evolution?" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences 353, no. 1372 (July 1998): 1127–1146.
Pettigrew, J. D., P. R. Manger, and S. L. B. Fine. "The Sensory World of the Platypus." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences 353, no. 1372 (July 1998): 1199–1210.
Pettigrew, J. D. "Electroreception in Monotremes." Journal of Experimental Biology 202, no. 10 (1999): 1447–1454.
Vergnani, Linda. "On the Trail of Scientific Oddballs (Peggy Rismiller Studies Echidnas)." The Chronicle of Higher Education 48, no. 11 (2001): A72.
Australian Platypus Conservancy. http://www.totalretail.com/platypus (accessed on June 29, 2004).
"Links for Platypus and Echidnas." Department of Anatomy & Physiology, University of Tasmania, Hobart. http://www.healthsci.utas.edu.au/medicine/research/mono/References.html (accessed on June 29, 2004).
Pelican Lagoon Research Centre (for echidnas and other animals). http://www.echidna.edu.au/index.html (accessed on June 29, 2004).