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The ears are slits on the sides of their heads that are usually unseen, as they are blanketed by their spines.The external ear is created by a large cartilaginous funnel, deep in the muscle.At 33° C, the echidna also possess the second lowest active body temperature of all mammals, behind the platypus.The short-beaked echidna's diet consists largely of ants and termites, while the Zaglossus (long-beaked) species typically eat worms and insect larvae.Males will form lines up to ten individuals long, the youngest echidna trailing last, that follow the female and attempt to mate. When they feel endangered they attempt to bury themselves or if exposed they will curl into a ball, both methods using their spines to shield them.

Molecular clock data suggest echidnas split from platypuses between 19 and 48 million years ago, and that platypus-like fossils dating back to over 112.5 million years ago therefore represent basal forms, rather than close relatives of the modern platypus.It is a challenge to study the echidna in its natural habitat and they show no interest in mating while in captivity.Therefore, no one has ever seen an echidna ejaculate.When fully grown a female can weigh up to 4.5 kilograms (9.9 lbs) and a male can weigh up to 6 kilograms (13.2 lbs).The echidnas' sex can be inferred from their size, as males are 25% larger than females on average.The diet of some species consists of ants and termites, but they are not closely related to the true anteaters of the Americas. Echidnas evidently evolved between 20 and 50 million years ago, descending from a platypus-like monotreme.

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