Echidna: Spiny Ball

The echidna is one of the more unique creatures found in God’s creation.  Despite its unique characteristics, the echidna has not gotten the public recognition of other unique species it shares a continent with, such as koalas and kangaroos. In this article, we will examine the unique features of the echidna and discover how this spiny mammal fits into the origins debate.

The echidna, while not nearly as popular as the koala, does have a bit of a cult following due to its appearance in an iconic video game.  The video game Sonic the Hedgehog features an echidna character but the character, unsurprisingly, looks almost nothing like a real echidna. The real hedgehog and the real echidna may look similar but they are very different creatures.  Echidnas are native to Australia and Papua New Guinea. Their closest relative is the platypus, which looks nothing like the spiny echidna and is a water animal unlike the land bound echidna.   The echidnas are not large creatures, rarely getting larger than thirty inches in length in the largest species.  Their short snouts, two inch spines, and stubby claws give them an endearing demeanor. They prey on small insects such as worms and termites. Since these insects are generally not found on the surface of the earth, the echidna uses its deceptively powerful claws to rip open termite mounds and dig holes in the ground to find its prey. Some echidnas have sticky tongues they use to pull stubborn insects out of their burrows or mounds.  Lacking teeth, echidnas use their tongues to grind their food against the walls of their mouths. Once it has been sufficiently broken down in this manner, the echidna will swallow the food.

Echidnas are slow moving, as one might expect from a creature with such short legs.  They do not handle hot weather well, often digging burrows in the ground in the summer to escape the heat, only coming out at night to hunt. They do like water however, and are know to bathe and swim for fun.  Due to their digging habits, they frequently accumulate dirt in their nostrils. To remove this, they blow clear bubbles from their nose, forcing the dirt particles out. They have small scent glands on their hind feet which they use to mark their territory.

Echidna’s have a very unique method of reproduction.  During the mating season, male echidnas will form lines behind female echidnas and follow them around. At times, these lines have been observed to be as many as ten males long.  This can go on for some time until all but one of the males gives up. The one that lasts the longest will be the one to mate with the female.  There is no outward method to tell whether an echidna is male or female. Once the male and female have mated, the female will lay a single leathery egg which she will immediately place in her pouch. Echidnas are one of only two mammals to lay eggs, the other being the aforementioned platypus.  After just ten days in the mothers pouch, the echidna egg will hatch into an infant echidna, known as a puggle.  When the puggle hatches, the female echidna will begin constructing her nursing burrow.  She will use this to hold the young once it leaves the pouch after around three months of suckling. The puggle will remain in this burrow while the mother forages for food, but will not be weaned and independent for another three to five months. Once weaned, the puggle will grow slowly, not reaching maturity until around five years of age.  A wild echidna may live for up to fifty years, a rare feat for such a small creature.

Besides laying eggs, echidnas have some other specialized features. They have a small claw on their feet which is specialized for them to clean their spines. Since nestling a bundle of spines would be uncomfortable for the mother echidna, the puggle hatches spineless and, when its spines do develop, they are soft and gentle, only hardening after a few weeks, generally after the puggle has been deposited in the nursing burrow. Unlike almost all other mammals, echidnas do not nurse in the typical fashion. Instead, specialized glands on the mother’s skin ooze milk onto her skin and the puggle laps it up.

Evolutionists have severe problems with the echidna. They postulate it is something of an intermediary between reptiles and marsupials.  This theory is fraught with issues. The first issue is that the echidna has just one trait that would associate it with a reptile, that being that it lays eggs. However, other than mammals, every other grouping of animal lays eggs so claiming a reptilian ancestor from the egg alone is specious.  Further, the echidna’s spines demand design. The echidna has a special claw on each foot to clean the spines. Further, the spines are not found on the newly hatched puggle, something that is extremely beneficial to the mother echidna.  The echidna is clearly designed to dig, having claws to do so, and a system to remove dirt from its nostrils. It is clearly designed to eat insects, with its long sticky tongue and specialized method of grinding up its food. Each one of these features meshes together perfectly to create affable echidna, and each one must be explained. Evolutionists must answer how the first sticky tongue evolved without sticking to the echidna’s mouth.  The whole system must have existed simultaneously. The same idea is in force for each of the other systems mentioned above.  Creationists have no such problem with the echidna. The Master Designer would have had no difficulty designing the echidna to function exactly as it does. Interlocking all those parts together is not difficult for the God Who framed the universe.




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