First skin-breathing mammal
Julia Creek dunnart
Australia ()
The first species of mammal shown to breathe through its skin, at least for part of its life, is the Julia Creek dunnart (Sminthopsis douglasi), a tiny species of Australian marsupial mouse. McGill University (Australia) physiologist Dr Jacopo Mortola (Canada) has discovered that although as an adult this shrew-like marsupial breathes through its lungs like other mammals, when first born it is so small – only 4 mm (0.15 in) long – that its muscles are too weak to inflate its lungs. Consequently, it absorbs oxygen directly through its skin, a process continuing until it leaves its mother's pouch, by which time it is large enough to inflate its lungs.