Platypus
Overview
The platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

 endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 to eastern Australia
Eastern states of Australia
In Australia, the term eastern states refers to the states adjoining the east coast of Australia. These are the mainland states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory, while not states, are also included. The term usually includes the...

, including Tasmania
Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

. Together with the four species of echidna
Echidna
Echidnas , also known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are four extant species, which, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs...

, it is one of the five extant species of monotreme
Monotreme
Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young like marsupials and placental mammals...

s, the only mammals that lay eggs
Egg (biology)
An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins to develop. In most birds, reptiles, insects, molluscs, fish, and monotremes, an egg is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum, which is expelled from the body and permitted to develop outside the body until the developing...

 instead of giving birth to live young. It is the sole living representative of its family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 (Ornithorhynchidae
Ornithorhynchidae
Ornithorhynchidae is one of the two extant families in the order Monotremata, and contains the Platypus and its extinct relatives. The other family is the Tachyglossidae, or echidnas...

) and genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 (Ornithorhynchus), though a number of related species have been found in the fossil record.

The bizarre appearance of this egg-laying, venom
Venom
Venom is the general term referring to any variety of toxins used by certain types of animals that inject it into their victims by the means of a bite or a sting...

ous, duck
Duck
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

-billed, beaver
Beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

-tailed, otter
Otter
The Otters are twelve species of semi-aquatic mammals which feed on fish and shellfish, and also other invertebrates, amphibians, birds and small mammals....

-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate fraud.
Encyclopedia
The platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

 endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 to eastern Australia
Eastern states of Australia
In Australia, the term eastern states refers to the states adjoining the east coast of Australia. These are the mainland states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory, while not states, are also included. The term usually includes the...

, including Tasmania
Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

. Together with the four species of echidna
Echidna
Echidnas , also known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are four extant species, which, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs...

, it is one of the five extant species of monotreme
Monotreme
Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young like marsupials and placental mammals...

s, the only mammals that lay eggs
Egg (biology)
An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins to develop. In most birds, reptiles, insects, molluscs, fish, and monotremes, an egg is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum, which is expelled from the body and permitted to develop outside the body until the developing...

 instead of giving birth to live young. It is the sole living representative of its family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 (Ornithorhynchidae
Ornithorhynchidae
Ornithorhynchidae is one of the two extant families in the order Monotremata, and contains the Platypus and its extinct relatives. The other family is the Tachyglossidae, or echidnas...

) and genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 (Ornithorhynchus), though a number of related species have been found in the fossil record.

The bizarre appearance of this egg-laying, venom
Venom
Venom is the general term referring to any variety of toxins used by certain types of animals that inject it into their victims by the means of a bite or a sting...

ous, duck
Duck
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

-billed, beaver
Beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

-tailed, otter
Otter
The Otters are twelve species of semi-aquatic mammals which feed on fish and shellfish, and also other invertebrates, amphibians, birds and small mammals....

-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate fraud. It is one of the few venomous mammals
Venomous mammals
Venomous mammals are animals of the class Mammalia that produce venom, which they use to kill or disable prey, or to defend themselves from predators. In modern nature, venomous mammals are quite rare. Venom is much more common among other vertebrates; there are many more species of venomous...

, the male platypus having a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans. The unique features of the platypus make it an important subject in the study of evolutionary biology and a recognisable and iconic symbol of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

; it has appeared as a mascot at national events and is featured on the reverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 of the Australian 20 cent coin. The platypus is the animal emblem of the state of New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

.

Until the early 20th century, it was hunted for its fur, but it is now protected throughout its range. Although captive breeding programmes have had only limited success and the platypus is vulnerable to the effects of pollution, it is not under any immediate threat.

Taxonomy and etymology

When the platypus was first encountered by Europeans in 1798, a pelt and sketch were sent back to Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 by Captain John Hunter
John Hunter (New South Wales)
Vice-Admiral John Hunter, RN was a British naval officer, explorer, naturalist and colonial administrator who succeeded Arthur Phillip as the second governor of New South Wales, Australia from 1795 to 1800.-Overview:...

, the second Governor of New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

. British scientists' initial hunch was that the attributes were a hoax. George Shaw
George Shaw
George Shaw was an English botanist and zoologist.Shaw was born at Bierton, Buckinghamshire and was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, receiving his M.A. in 1772. He took up the profession of medical practitioner. In 1786 he became the assistant lecturer in botany at Oxford University...

, who produced the first description of the animal in the Naturalist's Miscellany in 1799, stated that it was impossible not to entertain doubts as to its genuine nature, and Robert Knox
Robert Knox
Robert Knox was a Scottish surgeon, anatomist and zoologist. He was the most popular lecturer in anatomy in Edinburgh before his involvement in the Burke and Hare body-snatching case. This ruined his career, and a later move to London did not improve matters...

 believed it might have been produced by some Asian taxidermist
Taxidermy
Taxidermy is the act of mounting or reproducing dead animals for display or for other sources of study. Taxidermy can be done on all vertebrate species of animals, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians...

. It was thought that somebody had sewn a duck's beak onto the body of a beaver-like animal. Shaw even took a pair of scissors to the dried skin to check for stitches.

The common name "platypus" is the latinisation
Latinisation (literature)
Latinisation is the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style. It is commonly met with for historical personal names, with toponyms, or for the standard binomial nomenclature of the life sciences. It goes further than Romanisation, which is the writing of a word in the Latin alphabet...

 of the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word πλατύπους (platupous), "flat-footed", from πλατύς (platus), "broad, wide, flat" and πούς (pous), "foot". Shaw assigned it as a Linnaean
Linnaean taxonomy
Linnaean taxonomy can mean either of two related concepts:# the particular form of biological classification set up by Carl Linnaeus, as set forth in his Systema Naturæ and subsequent works...

 genus name when he initially described it, but the term was quickly discovered to belong already to the wood-boring ambrosia beetle
Ambrosia beetle
Ambrosia beetles are beetles of the weevil subfamilies Scolytinae and Platypodinae , which live in nutritional symbiosis with ambrosia fungi and probably with bacteria...

 (genus Platypus). It was independently described as Ornithorhynchus paradoxus by Johann Blumenbach in 1800 (from a specimen given to him by Sir Joseph Banks) and following the rules of priority of nomenclature it was later officially recognised as Ornithorhynchus anatinus.
The scientific name Ornithorhynchus anatinus is derived from ορνιθόρυνχος (ornithorhynkhos), which literally means "bird snout" in Greek, and anatinus, which means "duck-like" in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

.

There is no universally agreed plural of "platypus" in the English language. Scientists generally use "platypuses" or simply "platypus". Colloquially, the term "platypi" is also used for the plural, although this is technically incorrect and a form of pseudo-Latin; the correct Greek plural would be "platypodes". Early British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 settler
Settler
A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established permanent residence there, often to colonize the area. Settlers are generally people who take up residence on land and cultivate it, as opposed to nomads...

s called it by many names, such as watermole, duckbill, and duckmole. The name "platypus" is often prefixed with the adjective "duck-billed" to form duck-billed platypus, despite there being only one species of platypus.

Description

The body and the broad, flat tail of the platypus are covered with dense, brown fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

 that traps a layer of insulating air to keep the animal warm. The fur is waterproof, and the texture is akin to that of a mole
Mole (animal)
Moles are small cylindrical mammals adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They have velvety fur; tiny or invisible ears and eyes; and short, powerful limbs with large paws oriented for digging. The term is especially and most properly used for the true moles, those of the Talpidae family in the...

. The platypus uses its tail for storage of fat reserves (an adaptation also found in animals such as the Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae, now found in the wild only on the Australian island state of Tasmania. The size of a small dog, it became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936...

 and fat-tailed sheep
Fat-tailed sheep
The fat-tailed sheep is a general type of domestic sheep known for their distinctive large tails and hindquarters. Fat-tailed sheep breeds comprise approximately 25% of the world sheep population, and are commonly found in northern parts of Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, North India, Western...

). It has webbed feet and a large, rubbery snout; these are features that appear closer to those of a duck than to those of any known mammal. The webbing is more significant on the front feet and is folded back when walking on land. Unlike a bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

's beak
Beak
The beak, bill or rostrum is an external anatomical structure of birds which is used for eating and for grooming, manipulating objects, killing prey, fighting, probing for food, courtship and feeding young...

 (in which the upper and lower parts separate to reveal the mouth), the snout of the platypus is a sensory organ with the mouth on the underside. The nostrils are located on the dorsal surface of the snout, while the eyes and ears are located in a groove set just back from it; this groove is closed when swimming. Platypuses have been heard to emit a low growl when disturbed and a range of other vocalisations have been reported in captive specimens.

Weight varies considerably from 0.7 to 2.4 kg (1.5 to 5.3 lb), with males being larger than females: males average 50 cm (19.7 in) in total length while females average 43 cm (16.9 in). There is substantial variation in average size from one region to another, and this pattern does not seem to follow any particular climatic rule and may be due to other environmental factors, such as predation and human encroachment.

The platypus has an average body temperature of about 32 °C (89.6 °F) rather than the 37 °C (98.6 °F) typical of placental mammals. Research suggests this has been a gradual adaptation to harsh environmental conditions on the part of the small number of surviving monotreme species rather than a historical characteristic of monotremes.

Modern platypus young have three-cusped molars
Molar (tooth)
Molars are the rearmost and most complicated kind of tooth in most mammals. In many mammals they grind food; hence the Latin name mola, "millstone"....

, which they lose before or just after leaving the breeding burrow; adults have heavily keratinised pads in their place. The platypus jaw
Jaw
The jaw is any opposable articulated structure at the entrance of the mouth, typically used for grasping and manipulating food. The term jaws is also broadly applied to the whole of the structures constituting the vault of the mouth and serving to open and close it and is part of the body plan of...

 is constructed differently from that of other mammals, and the jaw-opening muscle is different. As in all true mammals, the tiny bones that conduct sound in the middle ear
Middle ear
The middle ear is the portion of the ear internal to the eardrum, and external to the oval window of the cochlea. The mammalian middle ear contains three ossicles, which couple vibration of the eardrum into waves in the fluid and membranes of the inner ear. The hollow space of the middle ear has...

 are fully incorporated into the skull, rather than lying in the jaw as in cynodont
Cynodont
Cynodontia or cynodonts are a taxon of therapsids which first appeared in the Late Permian and were eventually distributed throughout all seven continents by the Early Triassic . This clade includes modern mammals and their extinct close relatives. They were one of the most diverse groups of...

s and other premammalian synapsid
Synapsid
Synapsids are a group of animals that includes mammals and everything more closely related to mammals than to other living amniotes. They are easily separated from other amniotes by having an opening low in the skull roof behind each eye, leaving a bony arch beneath each, accounting for their name...

s. However, the external opening of the ear still lies at the base of the jaw. The platypus has extra bones in the shoulder girdle, including an interclavicle
Interclavicle
An interclavicle is a bone which, in most tetrapods, is located between the clavicles. Therian mammals are the only tetrapods which never have an interclavicle, although some members of other groups also lack one. Monotremes, although part of the mammalian class, do have interclavicles...

, which is not found in other mammals. It has a reptilian
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

 gait, with legs that are on the sides of the body, rather than underneath. When on land, it engages in knuckle-walking
Knuckle-walking
Knuckle-walking is a form of quadrupedal walking in which the forelimbs hold the fingers in a partially flexed posture that allows body weight to press down on the ground through the knuckles....

 to protect the webbing between its toes.

Venom

While both male and female platypuses are born with ankle spurs, only the male has spurs which produce a cocktail of venom,
composed largely of defensin
Defensin
Defensins are small cysteine-rich cationic proteins found in both vertebrates and invertebrates. They have also been reported in plants. They are, and function as, host defense peptides. They are active against bacteria, fungi and many enveloped and nonenveloped viruses. They consist of 18-45 amino...

-like protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s (DLPs), three of which are unique to the platypus. The defensin proteins are produced by the immune system of the platypus. Although powerful enough to kill smaller animals such as dogs, the venom is not lethal to humans, but is so excruciating that the victim may be incapacitated. Oedema
Edema
Edema or oedema ; both words from the Greek , oídēma "swelling"), formerly known as dropsy or hydropsy, is an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body that produces swelling...

 rapidly develops around the wound and gradually spreads throughout the affected limb. Information obtained from case histories
Case study
A case study is an intensive analysis of an individual unit stressing developmental factors in relation to context. The case study is common in social sciences and life sciences. Case studies may be descriptive or explanatory. The latter type is used to explore causation in order to find...

 and anecdotal evidence indicates the pain develops into a long-lasting hyperalgesia
Hyperalgesia
Hyperalgesia is an increased sensitivity to pain, which may be caused by damage to nociceptors or peripheral nerves. Temporary increased sensitivity to pain also occurs as part of sickness behavior, the evolved response to infection.-Types:...

 (a heightened sensitivity to pain) that persists for days or even months. Venom is produced in the crural glands of the male, which are kidney-shaped alveolar gland
Alveolar gland
In contrast to tubular glands, in the second main variety of gland, the secretory portion is enlarged and the lumen variously increased in size. These are termed alveolar glands ....

s connected by a thin-walled duct to a calcaneus spur on each hind limb. The female platypus, in common with echidnas, has rudimentary spur buds which do not develop (dropping off before the end of their first year) and lack functional crural glands.

The venom appears to have a different function from those produced by nonmammalian species: its effects are not life-threatening to humans, but nevertheless powerful enough to seriously impair the victim. Since only males produce venom and production rises during the breeding season, it may be used as an offensive weapon to assert dominance during this period.

Electrolocation

Monotremes (for the other species, see Echidna
Echidna
Echidnas , also known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are four extant species, which, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs...

) are the only mammals known to have a sense of electroreception
Electroreception
Electroreception is the biological ability to perceive natural electrical stimuli. It has been observed only in aquatic or amphibious animals, since water is a much better conductor than air. Electroreception is used in electrolocation and for electrocommunication.- Overview :Electroreception is...

: they locate their prey in part by detecting electric fields generated by muscular contractions. The platypus' electroreception is the most sensitive of any monotreme.

The electroreceptors are located in rostrocaudal rows in the skin of the bill, while mechanoreceptor
Mechanoreceptor
A mechanoreceptor is a sensory receptor that responds to mechanical pressure or distortion. There are four main types in the glabrous skin of humans: Pacinian corpuscles, Meissner's corpuscles, Merkel's discs, and Ruffini corpuscles...

s (which detect touch) are uniformly distributed across the bill. The electrosensory area of the cerebral cortex
Cerebral cortex
The cerebral cortex is a sheet of neural tissue that is outermost to the cerebrum of the mammalian brain. It plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. It is constituted of up to six horizontal layers, each of which has a different...

 is contained within the tactile somatosensory area, and some cortical cells receive input from both electroreceptors and mechanoreceptors, suggesting a close association between the tactile and electric senses. Both electroreceptors and mechanoreceptors in the bill dominate the somatotopic map of the platypus brain, in the same way human hands dominate the Penfield homunculus map
Cortical homunculus
A cortical homunculus is a pictorial representation of the anatomical divisions of the primary motor cortex and the primary somatosensory cortex , i.e., the portion of the human brain directly responsible for the movement and exchange of sense and motor information of the rest of the body.There...

.

The platypus can determine the direction of an electric source, perhaps by comparing differences in signal strength
Signal strength
In telecommunications, particularly in radio, signal strength refers to the magnitude of the electric field at a reference point that is a significant distance from the transmitting antenna. It may also be referred to as received signal level or field strength. Typically, it is expressed in...

 across the sheet of electroreceptors. This would explain the characteristic side-to-side motion of the animal's head while hunting. The cortical convergence of electrosensory and tactile inputs suggests a mechanism for determining the distance of prey items which, when they move, emit both electrical signals and mechanical pressure pulses; the difference between the times of arrival of the two signals would allow computation of distance.

The platypus feeds by neither sight nor smell, closing its eyes, ears, and nose each time it dives. Rather, when it digs in the bottom of streams with its bill, its electroreceptors detect tiny electrical currents generated by muscular contractions of its prey, so enabling it to distinguish between animate and inanimate objects, which continuously stimulate its mechanoreceptors. Experiments have shown the platypus will even react to an "artificial shrimp" if a small electrical current is passed through it.

Eyes

Recent studies say that the eyes of the platypus could possibly be highly similar to those of a Pacific Hagfish or North Hemisphere Lampreys and to those of most tetrapods. Also it contains double cones, which most mammals do not have.

Ecology and behaviour

The platypus is semiaquatic, inhabiting small streams and rivers over an extensive range from the cold highlands of Tasmania
Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

 and the Australian Alps
Australian Alps
The Australian Alps are the highest mountain ranges of mainland Australia. They are located in southeastern Australia and straddle the Australian Capital Territory, south-eastern New South Wales and eastern Victoria...

 to the tropical rainforest
Tropical rainforest
A tropical rainforest is an ecosystem type that occurs roughly within the latitudes 28 degrees north or south of the equator . This ecosystem experiences high average temperatures and a significant amount of rainfall...

s of coastal Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

 as far north as the base of the Cape York Peninsula
Cape York Peninsula
Cape York Peninsula is a large remote peninsula located in Far North Queensland at the tip of the state of Queensland, Australia, the largest unspoilt wilderness in northern Australia and one of the last remaining wilderness areas on Earth...

. Inland, its distribution is not well known: it is extinct in South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

 (apart from an introduced population on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is Australia's third-largest island after Tasmania and Melville Island. It is southwest of Adelaide at the entrance of Gulf St Vincent. Its closest point to the mainland is off Cape Jervis, on the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula in the state of South Australia. The island is long...

) and is no longer found in the main part of the Murray-Darling Basin
Murray-Darling Basin
The Murray-Darling basin is a large geographical area in the interior of southeastern Australia, whose name is derived from its two major rivers, the Murray River and the Darling River. It drains one-seventh of the Australian land mass, and is currently by far the most significant agricultural...

, possibly due to the declining water quality
Water quality
Water quality is the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water. It is a measure of the condition of water relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. It is most frequently used by reference to a set of standards against which...

 brought about by extensive land clearing and irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 schemes. Along the coastal river systems, its distribution is unpredictable; it appears to be absent from some relatively healthy rivers, and yet maintains a presence in others that are quite degraded (the lower Maribyrnong
Maribyrnong river
The Maribyrnong River rises about 50 km north of Melbourne, Victoria , near Mount Macedon. It flows generally southward and combines with the Yarra River to flow into Port Phillip....

, for example).

In captivity, platypuses have survived to 17 years of age, and wild specimens have been recaptured when 11 years old. Mortality rate
Mortality rate
Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in a population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time...

s for adults in the wild appear to be low. Natural predators include snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s, water rats, goanna
Goanna
Goanna is the name used to refer to any number of Australian monitor lizards of the genus Varanus, as well as to certain species from Southeast Asia.There are around 30 species of goanna, 25 of which are found in Australia...

s, hawk
Hawk
The term hawk can be used in several ways:* In strict usage in Australia and Africa, to mean any of the species in the subfamily Accipitrinae, which comprises the genera Accipiter, Micronisus, Melierax, Urotriorchis and Megatriorchis. The large and widespread Accipiter genus includes goshawks,...

s, owl
Owl
Owls are a group of birds that belong to the order Strigiformes, constituting 200 bird of prey species. Most are solitary and nocturnal, with some exceptions . Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish...

s, and eagle
Eagle
Eagles are members of the bird family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other. Most of the more than 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just two species can be found in the United States and Canada, nine more in...

s. Low platypus numbers in northern Australia are possibly due to predation by crocodile
Crocodile
A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

s. The introduction of red fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

es in 1845 for hunting may have had some impact on its numbers on the mainland. The platypus is generally regarded as nocturnal and crepuscular
Crepuscular
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight, that is during dawn and dusk. The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning "twilight." Crepuscular is, thus, in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright...

, but individuals are also active during the day, particularly when the sky is overcast. Its habitat bridges rivers and the riparian zone
Riparian zone
A riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river or stream. Riparian is also the proper nomenclature for one of the fifteen terrestrial biomes of the earth. Plant habitats and communities along the river margins and banks are called riparian vegetation, characterized by...

 for both a food supply of prey species, and banks where it can dig resting and nesting burrows. It may have a range of up to 7 km (4.3 mi), with a male's home range overlapping those of three or four females.

The platypus is an excellent swimmer and spends much of its time in the water foraging for food. When swimming, it can be distinguished from other Australian mammals by the absence of visible ears. Uniquely among mammals, it propels itself when swimming by an alternate rowing motion of the front two feet; although all four feet of the platypus are webbed, the hind feet (which are held against the body) do not assist in propulsion, but are used for steering in combination with the tail. The species is endothermic
Warm-blooded
The term warm-blooded is a colloquial term to describe animal species which have a relatively higher blood temperature, and maintain thermal homeostasis primarily through internal metabolic processes...

, maintaining its body temperature at about 32 °C (89.6 °F), lower than most mammals, even while foraging for hours in water below 5 °C (41 °F).

Dives normally last around 30 seconds, but can last longer, although few exceed the estimated aerobic limit of 40 seconds. Recovery at the surface between dives commonly takes from 10 to 20 seconds. The platypus is a carnivore
Carnivore
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging...

: it feeds on annelid
Annelid
The annelids , formally called Annelida , are a large phylum of segmented worms, with over 17,000 modern species including ragworms, earthworms and leeches...

 worms and insect larvae
Larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

, freshwater shrimp
Shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

s, and yabbies (freshwater crayfish) that it digs out of the riverbed with its snout or catches while swimming. It uses cheek-pouches to carry prey to the surface, where they are eaten. The platypus needs to eat about 20% of its own weight each day, which requires it to spend an average of 12 hours each day looking for food. When not in the water, the platypus retires to a short, straight resting burrow of oval cross-section, nearly always in the riverbank not far above water level, and often hidden
Camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

 under a protective tangle of roots.

Reproduction

When the platypus was first encountered by European naturalists
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

, they were divided over whether the female laid eggs. This was not confirmed until 1884, when W. H. Caldwell was sent to Australia, where, after extensive searching assisted by a team of 150 Aborigines
Australian Aborigines
Australian Aborigines , also called Aboriginal Australians, from the latin ab originem , are people who are indigenous to most of the Australian continentthat is, to mainland Australia and the island of Tasmania...

, he managed to discover a few eggs. Mindful of the high cost per word of wiring England, Caldwell famously but tersely wired London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, "Monotremes oviparous, ovum meroblastic." That is, monotremes lay eggs, and the eggs are similar to those of reptiles in that only part of the egg divides as it develops.

The species exhibits a single breeding season
Breeding season
The breeding season is the most suitable season, usually with favourable conditions and abundant food and water, for breeding among some wild animals and birds . Species with a breeding season have naturally evolved to have sexual intercourse during a certain time of year in order to achieve the...

; mating occurs between June and October, with some local variation taking place between different populations across its range. Historical observation, mark-and-recapture studies, and preliminary investigations of population genetics indicate the possibility of both resident and transient members of populations, and suggest a polygynous
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

 mating system. Females are thought likely to become sexually mature in their second year, with breeding confirmed still to take place in animals over nine years old.

Outside the mating season, the platypus lives in a simple ground burrow whose entrance is about 30 cm (11.8 in) above the water level. After mating, the female constructs a deeper, more elaborate burrow up to 20 m (65.6 ft) long and blocked at intervals with plugs (which may act as a safeguard against rising waters or predators, or as a method of regulating humidity and temperature). The male takes no part in caring for its young, and retreats to its year-long burrow. The female softens the ground in the burrow with dead, folded, wet leaves and she fills the nest at the end of the tunnel with fallen leaves and reeds for bedding material. This material is dragged to the nest by tucking it underneath her curled tail.

The female platypus has a pair of ovaries
Ovary
The ovary is an ovum-producing reproductive organ, often found in pairs as part of the vertebrate female reproductive system. Ovaries in anatomically female individuals are analogous to testes in anatomically male individuals, in that they are both gonads and endocrine glands.-Human anatomy:Ovaries...

, but only the left one is functional. It lays one to three (usually two) small, leathery eggs (similar to those of reptiles), about 11 mm (0.433070866141732 in) in diameter and slightly rounder than bird eggs. The eggs develop in utero
In utero
In utero is a Latin term literally meaning "in the womb". In biology, the phrase describes the state of an embryo or fetus. In legal contexts, the phrase is used to refer to unborn children. Under common law, unborn children are still considered to exist for property transfer purposes.-See also:*...

for about 28 days, with only about 10 days of external incubation
Avian incubation
Incubation refers to the process by which certain oviparous animals hatch their eggs, and to the development of the embryo within the egg. The most vital factor of incubation is the constant temperature required for its development over a specific period. Especially in domestic fowl, the act of...

 (in contrast to a chicken egg, which spends about one day in tract and 21 days externally). After laying her eggs, the female curls around them. The incubation period is divided into three phases. In the first phase, the embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

 has no functional organs and relies on the yolk sac
Yolk sac
The yolk sac is a membranous sac attached to an embryo, providing early nourishment in the form of yolk in bony fishes, sharks, reptiles, birds, and primitive mammals...

 for sustenance. The yolk is absorbed by the developing young. During the second phase, the digits develop and, in the last phase, the egg tooth
Egg tooth
In some egg-laying animals, the egg tooth is a small, sharp, cranial protuberance used by offspring to break or tear through the egg's surface during hatching...

 appears.

The newly hatched young are vulnerable, blind, and hairless, and are fed by the mother's milk. Although possessing mammary gland
Mammary gland
A mammary gland is an organ in mammals that produces milk to feed young offspring. Mammals get their name from the word "mammary". In ruminants such as cows, goats, and deer, the mammary glands are contained in their udders...

s, the platypus lacks teats. Instead, milk is released through pores in the skin. There are grooves on her abdomen in which the milk pools, allowing the young to lap it up. After they hatch, the offspring are suckled for three to four months. During incubation and weaning, the mother initially leaves the burrow only for short periods, to forage. When doing so, she creates a number of thin soil plugs along the length of the burrow, possibly to protect the young from predators; pushing past these on her return forces water from her fur and allows the burrow to remain dry. After about five weeks, the mother begins to spend more time away from her young and, at around four months, the young emerge from the burrow. A platypus is born with teeth, but these drop out at a very early age, leaving the horny plates with which it grinds its food.

Sleep

The average sleep time of a platypus is said to be as long as 14 hours per day, possibly because they eat crustaceans which provide a high level of calories.

Evolution

The platypus and other monotremes were very poorly understood, and some of the 19th century myths that grew up around them—for example, that the monotremes were "inferior" or quasireptilian
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

—still endure. In 1947, William King Gregory
William King Gregory
William King Gregory was an American zoologist, renowned as a primatologist, paleontologist, and functional and comparative morphologist. He was an expert on mammalian dentition, and a leading contributor to theories of evolution...

 theorised that placental mammals and marsupials may have diverged earlier, and a subsequent branching divided the monotremes and marsupials, but later research and fossil discoveries have suggested this is incorrect. In fact, modern monotremes are the survivors of an early branching of the mammal tree, and a later branching is thought to have led to the marsupial
Marsupial
Marsupials are an infraclass of mammals, characterized by giving birth to relatively undeveloped young. Close to 70% of the 334 extant species occur in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, with the remaining 100 found in the Americas, primarily in South America, but with thirteen in Central...

 and placental groups. Molecular clock
Molecular clock
The molecular clock is a technique in molecular evolution that uses fossil constraints and rates of molecular change to deduce the time in geologic history when two species or other taxa diverged. It is used to estimate the time of occurrence of events called speciation or radiation...

 and fossil dating suggest platypuses split from echidna
Echidna
Echidnas , also known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are four extant species, which, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs...

s around 19–48 million years ago.
The oldest discovered fossil of the modern platypus dates back to about 100,000 years ago, during the Quaternary
Quaternary
The Quaternary Period is the most recent of the three periods of the Cenozoic Era in the geologic time scale of the ICS. It follows the Neogene Period, spanning 2.588 ± 0.005 million years ago to the present...

 period. The extinct monotremes Teinolophos
Teinolophos
Teinolophos trusleri was a prehistoric species of monotreme, or egg-laying mammal. It is known from a lower jawbone found in Flat Rocks, Victoria, Australia. It lived during the Aptian age of the Lower Cretaceous. It is the earliest known relative of the Platypus.The species name honours the...

and Steropodon
Steropodon
Steropodon galmani was a prehistoric species of monotreme, or egg-laying mammal, that lived during the middle Albian stage, in the Lower Cretaceous period...

were closely related to the modern platypus. The fossilised Steropodon was discovered in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

 and is composed of an opalised lower jawbone with three molar teeth (whereas the adult contemporary platypus is toothless). The molar teeth were initially thought to be tribosphenic, which would have supported a variation of Gregory's theory, but later research has suggested that, while they have three cusps, they evolved under a separate process. The fossil is thought to be about 110 million years old, which means that the platypus-like animal was alive during the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
The Cretaceous , derived from the Latin "creta" , usually abbreviated K for its German translation Kreide , is a geologic period and system from circa to million years ago. In the geologic timescale, the Cretaceous follows the Jurassic period and is followed by the Paleogene period of the...

 period, making it the oldest mammal fossil found in Australia. Monotrematum sudamericanum, another fossil relative of the platypus, has been found in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, indicating monotremes were present in the supercontinent of Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

 when the continents of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 and Australia were joined via Antarctica (up to about 167 million years ago).

Because of the early divergence from the therian mammals
Theria
Theria is a subclass of mammals that give birth to live young without using a shelled egg, including both eutherians and metatherians . The only omitted extant mammal group is the egg-laying monotremes....

 and the low numbers of extant monotreme species, the platypus is a frequent subject of research in evolutionary biology. In 2004, research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

ers at the Australian National University
Australian National University
The Australian National University is a teaching and research university located in the Australian capital, Canberra.As of 2009, the ANU employs 3,945 administrative staff who teach approximately 10,000 undergraduates, and 7,500 postgraduate students...

 discovered the platypus has ten sex chromosomes, compared with two (XY) in most other mammals (for instance, a male platypus is always XYXYXYXYXY), although, given the XY designation of mammals, the sex chromosomes of the platypus are more similar to the ZZ/ZW sex chromosomes
ZW sex-determination system
The ZW sex-determination system is a system that determines the sex of offspring in birds, some fish and crustaceans such as the giant river prawn, some insects , and some reptiles, including Komodo dragons...

 found in bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s. The platypus genome also has both reptilian and mammalian genes associated with egg fertilisation. Since the platypus lacks the mammalian sex-determining gene SRY
SRY
SRY is a sex-determining gene on the Y chromosome in the therians .This intronless gene encodes a transcription factor that is a member of the SOX gene family of DNA-binding proteins...

, the mechanism of sex determination remains unknown. A draft version of the platypus genome sequence was published in Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

on 8 May 2008, revealing both reptilian and mammalian elements, as well as two genes found previously only in birds, amphibians, and fish. More than 80% of the platypus' genes are common to the other mammals whose genomes have been sequenced.

Conservation status

Except for its loss from the state of South Australia, the platypus occupies the same general distribution as it did prior to European settlement of Australia. However, local changes and fragmentation of distribution due to human modification of its habitat are documented. Its current and historical abundance, however, are less well-known and it has probably declined in numbers, although still being considered as common over most of its current range. The species was extensively hunted for its fur until the early years of the 20th century and, although protected throughout Australia since 1905, until about 1950 it was still at risk of drowning in the nets of inland fisheries. The platypus does not appear to be in immediate danger of extinction thanks to conservation measures, but it could be impacted by habitat disruption caused by dams, irrigation, pollution, netting, and trapping. The IUCN lists the platypus on its Red List as Least Concern.

Platypuses generally suffer from few diseases in the wild; however, there is widespread public concern in Tasmania about the potential impacts of a disease caused by the fungus Mucor amphibiorum. The disease (termed mucormycosis
Mucormycosis
Zygomycosis is the broadest term to refer to infections caused by bread mold fungi of the zygomycota phylum. However, because zygomycota has been identified as polyphyletic, and is not included in modern fungal classification systems, the diseases that Zygomycosis can refer to are better called by...

) affects only Tasmanian platypuses, and has not been observed in platypuses in mainland Australia. Affected platypuses can develop ugly skin lesions or ulcers on various parts of the body, including their backs, tails, and legs. Mucormycosis can kill platypuses, death arising from secondary infection and by affecting the animals' ability to maintain body temperature and forage efficiency. The Biodiversity Conservation Branch at the Department of Primary Industries and Water are collaborating with NRM north and University of Tasmania
University of Tasmania
The University of Tasmania is a medium-sized public Australian university based in Tasmania, Australia. Officially founded on 1 January 1890, it was the fourth university to be established in nineteenth-century Australia...

 researchers to determine the impacts of the disease on Tasmanian platypuses, as well as the mechanism of transmission and current spread of the disease. Until recently, the introduced red fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

 (Vulpes vulpes) was confined to mainland Australia, but growing evidence now indicates it is present in low numbers in Tasmania.

Much of the world was introduced to the platypus in 1939 when National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic, formerly the National Geographic Magazine, is the official journal of the National Geographic Society. It published its first issue in 1888, just nine months after the Society itself was founded...

published an article on the platypus and the efforts to study and raise it in captivity. The latter is a difficult task, and only a few young have been successfully raised since—notably at Healesville Sanctuary
Healesville Sanctuary
Healesville Sanctuary, or the Sir Colin MacKenzie Fauna Park, is a zoo specializing in native Australian animals. It is located at Healesville in rural Victoria, Australia, and has a history of breeding native animals. It is one of only two places to have successfully bred a platypus, the other...

 in Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

. The leading figure in these efforts was David Fleay
David Fleay
David Howells Fleay was an Australian naturalist who pioneered the captive breeding of endangered species, and was the first person to breed the platypus in captivity....

, who established a platypusary—a simulated stream in a tank—at the Healesville Sanctuary, where breeding was successful in 1943. In 1972, he found a dead baby of about 50 days old, which had presumably been born in captivity, at his wildlife park
David Fleay Wildlife Park
The David Fleay Wildlife Park is located in Burleigh Heads, a suburb of the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Established by Australian naturalist David Fleay in 1952, the Park today is home to many native animals, which are displayed in surroundings similar to their natural habitats...

 at Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Heads, Queensland
Burleigh Heads is a suburb on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. At the 2006 Census, Burleigh Heads had a population of 7,606.Burleigh Heads is renowned for its surf break, and is an alternative to the more tourist ridden towns of the Gold Coast...

 on the Gold Coast
Gold Coast, Queensland
Gold Coast is a coastal city of Australia located in South East Queensland, 94km south of the state capital Brisbane. With a population approximately 540,000 in 2010, it is the second most populous city in the state, the sixth most populous city in the country, and also the most populous...

, Queensland. Healesville repeated its success in 1998 and again in 2000 with a similar stream tank. Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo is the city zoo of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Officially opened on 7 October 1916, it is located on the shores of Sydney Harbour in the suburb of Mosman...

 in Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 bred twins in 2003, and breeding was again successful there in 2006.

Platypus in wildlife sanctuaries

The platypus can be seen in special aquariums at the following Australian wildlife sanctuaries:

Brisbane

  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
    Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
    Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is located in the Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket in Queensland, Australia.Founded in 1927, it is the world's oldest and largest Koala Sanctuary.-History:...

  • Walkabout Creek Wildlife Centre

Healesville

  • Healesville Sanctuary
    Healesville Sanctuary
    Healesville Sanctuary, or the Sir Colin MacKenzie Fauna Park, is a zoo specializing in native Australian animals. It is located at Healesville in rural Victoria, Australia, and has a history of breeding native animals. It is one of only two places to have successfully bred a platypus, the other...

    , near Melbourne
    Melbourne
    Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

    , where the first platypus was bred in captivity, during 1943, by naturalist David Fleay
    David Fleay
    David Howells Fleay was an Australian naturalist who pioneered the captive breeding of endangered species, and was the first person to breed the platypus in captivity....

    .

Mylor

  • Warrawong Sanctuary
    Warrawong Sanctuary
    Warrawong Sanctuary is a wildlife reserve near Adelaide, South Australia. Warrawong was established by Dr John Wamsley to conserve endangered Australian wildlife. He purchased the first , a degraded dairy farm, in 1969, with later added...

     near Mylor in the Adelaide Hills
    Adelaide Hills
    The Adelaide Hills are part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, east of the city of Adelaide in the state of South Australia. It is unofficially centred on the largest town in the area, Mount Barker, which has a population of around 29,000 and is also one of Australia's fastest growing towns.- History :The...

     (near Adelaide).

Cultural references

Since the introduction of decimal currency to Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in 1966, the embossed image of a platypus has appeared on the reverse (tail) side of the 20 cent coin.

The platypus has been used several times as a mascot: "Syd" the platypus was one of the three mascots chosen for the Sydney 2000 Olympics
2000 Summer Olympics
The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games or the Millennium Games/Games of the New Millennium, officially known as the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated between 15 September and 1 October 2000 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia...

 along with an echidna and a kookaburra
Kookaburra
Kookaburras are terrestrial kingfishers native to Australia and New Guinea. They are large to very large, with a total length of . The name is a loanword from Wiradjuri guuguubarra, and is onomatopoeic of its call...

, "Expo Oz" the platypus was the mascot for World Expo 88, which was held in Brisbane
Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

 in 1988, and Hexley the platypus is the mascot for Apple Computer
Apple Computer
Apple Inc. is an American multinational corporation that designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad...

's BSD-based Darwin
Darwin (operating system)
Darwin is an open source POSIX-compliant computer operating system released by Apple Inc. in 2000. It is composed of code developed by Apple, as well as code derived from NeXTSTEP, BSD, and other free software projects....

 operating system, Mac OS X. The platypus is also the mascot for the currently inactive Wenatchee Valley Venom arena football
Indoor Football League
The Indoor Football League began in 1999 as an offshoot of the troubled Professional Indoor Football League. Keary Ecklund, the owner of the Green Bay Bombers and Madison Mad Dogs, left the PIFL after its first, financially-troubled, season to start his own league. Unlike the PIFL, the IFL was an...

 team located in Wenatchee, Washington
Wenatchee, Washington
Wenatchee is located in North Central Washington and is the largest city and county seat of Chelan County, Washington, United States. The population within the city limits in 2010 was 31,925...

.

The Platypus Trophy
Platypus Trophy
The Platypus Trophy is a trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Civil War college football game between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. The trophy depicts a platypus, an animal which has features of both a duck and a beaver . For three years, from 1959 to 1961, the trophy...

 was made as an award for the winner of the college rivalry between the Oregon Ducks
Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks refers to the sports teams of the University of Oregon, located in Eugene, Oregon. The Oregon Ducks are part of the Pacific-12 Conference in the Division 1 of the NCAA. With seventeen varsity teams, the Oregon Ducks are best known for their football team and Track and Field...

 and the Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State Beavers
The Oregon State Beavers is a name shared by all sports teams at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. The Beavers are part of the Pacific-12 Conference . Oregon State's mascot is Benny the Beaver...

.

The platypus has also been featured in songs, such as Green Day
Green Day
Green Day is an American punk rock band formed in 1987. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool...

's "Platypus (I Hate You)" and Mr. Bungle
Mr. Bungle
Mr. Bungle was an experimental band from Northern California. The band was formed in 1985 while the members were still in high school and was named after a children's educational film. Mr. Bungle released four demo tapes in the mid to late 1980s before being signed to Warner Bros. Records and...

's "Platypus". It is the subject of a children's poem by Banjo Paterson
Banjo Paterson
Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson, OBE was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas, including the district around Binalong, New South Wales where he spent much of his childhood...

, and it also frequently appears as a character in children's television programmes, for example, the Platypus Family on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, also known as Mister Rogers, is an American children's television series that was created and hosted by Fred Rogers. The series is aimed primarily at preschool ages, 2-5, but has been stated by Public Broadcasting Service as "appropriate for all ages"...

, Perry the Platypus
Perry the Platypus
Perry the Platypus, also known as Agent P or simply Perry is an anthropomorphic platypus from the animated television series Phineas and Ferb. Perry is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker and created by the series' co-founders, Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh...

 on the show Phineas and Ferb
Phineas and Ferb
Phineas and Ferb is an American animated television comedy series. Originally broadcast as a preview on August 17, 2007, on Disney Channel, the series follows Phineas Flynn and his English stepbrother Ferb Fletcher on summer vacation. Every day the boys embark on some grand new project, which...

, and Ovide, the star of the cartoon Ovide and the Gang
Ovide and the Gang
La Bande à Ovide, a.k.a. Ovide and the Gang, is a 1980s animated TV show produced by the Canadian animation studio CinéGroupe in association with Belgium's Odec Kid Cartoons...

.

In the 1980s, the platypus was the main animal featured on promotional ads for the educational animal encyclopedia "Wildlife Treasury
Wildlife Treasury
Wildlife Treasury was an educational animal encyclopedia for young children published between 1975 and 1981 by Leisure Books.-Description:The encyclopedia was released in a series of "Wildlife Cards" showing entries on specific animals, with over one thousand cards in all...

". In the advertisement, an excited young boy exclaims: "The Duck Billed Platypus has feet like a duck but it's furry! It's all in my Wildlife Treasury!"

The platypus is sometimes jokingly referred to as proof that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 has a sense of humour (at the beginning of the film Dogma
Dogma (film)
Dogma is a 1999 American adventure fantasy comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith, who also stars in the film along with an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Bud Cort, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, George Carlin, Janeane Garofalo,...

, for example; Robin Williams
Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance...

 implied he was also stoned on marijuana at the time.) It is also often used humorously (along with the camel
Camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

) to describe something designed by committee. For the "Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production...

" novel Q-Squared
Q-Squared
Q-Squared is a non-canon Star Trek novel by acclaimed author Peter David. It spent two weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1994....

, the titled character
Q (Star Trek)
Q is a fictional character who appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as in related products. In all of these programs, he is played by John de Lancie....

 claims (in private) to a disbelieving Capt. Picard
Jean-Luc Picard
Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a Star Trek character portrayed by Patrick Stewart. He appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the feature films Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek Nemesis...

 he personally influenced God's decision to create/evolve the platypus.

The platypus is also a pet in the massively multiplayer online role playing game RuneScape
RuneScape
RuneScape is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game released in January 2001 by Andrew and Paul Gower, and developed and published by Jagex Games Studio. It is a graphical browser game implemented on the client-side in Java, and incorporates 3D rendering...

.

"Platypus Man
Platypus Man
Platypus Man is an American sitcom that aired on UPN in 1995. Starring comedian Richard Jeni, the television series was based on an hour-long HBO special of Jeni's filmed in 1992. The series lasted for only one season, with a total of thirteen episodes....

" was a short lived, 1995 sitcom aired on Fox Television and/or UPN
UPN
United Paramount Network was a television network that was broadcast in over 200 markets in the United States from 1995 to 2006. UPN was originally owned by Viacom/Paramount and Chris-Craft Industries, the former of which, through the Paramount Television Group, produced most of the network's...

 in the United States. Fox also had an animated program called "Taz-Mania
Taz-Mania
Taz-Mania is a American cartoon sitcom produced by Warner Bros. Animation from 1991–1993, broadcast in the United States on Fox from 1991-1995...

," featuring the Platypus Bros.: Daniel
Maurice LaMarche
Maurice LaMarche is an Emmy Award winning Canadian-American voice actor and former stand up comedian. He is best known for his voicework in Futurama as Kif Kroker, as Egon Spengler in The Real Ghostbusters, Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Big Bob Pataki in Hey...

 and Timothy
Rob Paulsen
Robert Fredrick "Rob" Paulsen III , sometimes credited as Rob Paulson, is an American voice actor, best known as the voice behind Raphael from the 1987 cartoon of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Yakko Warner and Dr...

.

In the episode, The Truth in the Myth on Bones
Bones (TV series)
Bones is an American crime drama television series that premiered on the Fox Network on September 13, 2005. The show is based on forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology, with each episode focusing on an FBI case file concerning the mystery behind human remains brought by FBI Special Agent...

, when the team was studying a murdered victim who was supposed to be killed by the cryptic animal, chupacabra
Chupacabra
The chupacabras is a legendary cryptid rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas. It is associated more recently with sightings of an allegedly unknown animal in Puerto Rico , Mexico, and the United States, especially in the latter's Latin American communities...

, Dr. Saroyan
Camille Saroyan
Dr. Camille Saroyan, M.D. is a fictional character in the American television series, Bones. She is portrayed by Tamara Taylor. Camille was introduced as a forensic pathologist in The Titan on the Tracks, Season 2, Episode 1, as the head of the Forensic Division, a new division formed during the...

 questions the very existence of such a creature, in which intern Vincent Nigel-Murray responded, "I'd be skeptical if you told me there was a venomous, egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed mammal, and yet the platypus, it does exist."

External links

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