What’s wrong with this echidna in the collection? | Natural History Museum


This spiny animal with a wobbly gait is an echidna Not only is it a mammal that lays eggs, it’s also hiding other secrets… Echidnas are fantastic creatures and they
have some amazing features. But one of the most bizarre features that
they have is that their hind feet are actually pointed
backwards. In fact, this is so surprising that early
scientists, when they first came across these specimens
in Europe, they mounted them the wrong way around.
They mounted them with their hind feet facing forward. This anatomical quirk makes them very efficient at digging, and so when they are threatened by predators they can actually dig themselves a hole in
the ground, within seconds, and disappear.
The other interesting feature they have in their hind feet
is that they have a very large claw. This is known as the grooming claw,
because they use it to poke in between their spines
and clean themselves. So these feet may look weird, but actually
they are very good tools for what echidnas want to use them for.

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