The Platypus

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by XanderRorrison
Last updated 7 years ago


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The Platypus

Egg LayingEgg laying mammals are called monotremes, and there are only five species that do so -- four of which are echidna. Little fossil evidence of monotremes exists, but scientists believe that before evolving to deliver live young, most mammals laid eggs. In that regard, the platypus is a historic relic.

The Platypus

Poison SpurIn contrast to its lack of evolution on the egg-laying front, platypus are highly evolved in other areas. Male platypodes have a spur on each foot, from which they can deliver a venomous sting. This capacity to deliver poison is extremely rare for mammals. Shrews are capable of doing it, too, but the platypus is the only creature on Earth to have a venomous spur.

Duck BillOne of the most distinguishing feature of the platypus is its duck bill. This feature enable the platypus to hear and breathe while diving for prey. It is remarkably similar to a duck’s bill, hence the name, but it most likely evolved independently of the duck, despite this similarity.

Fat TailThe platypus tail is fat and flat. Its flatness assists with swimming, functioning almost like a rudder. But the tail is also a fat store. Again, this adaptation is especially important for females, who require stores of fat for nesting in their burrow. However, males store fat as well, for periods when they are unable to find food.

Webbed FeetPlatypuses have evolved to have webbed feet. The webs enable them to swim more efficiently and move around on soft, muddy surfaces with ease. The front feet are fully webbed, the hind feet are only partially webbed.

The platypus is a semiaquatic egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Together with the four species of echidna, it is one of the five extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth.

There are three types of adaptations that help an organism to survive in its environment and these are: structural behavioural and functional.


  • MrsEGreer 7 years ago

    MrsEGreer's avatar

    Superb research Xander
    Mrs Carlson