Platypus

The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), sometimes referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a semiaquatic egg-laying mammal[3] endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. The platypus is the sole living representative of its family (Ornithorhynchidae) and genus (Ornithorhynchus), though a number of related species appear in the fossil record.

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 to live young. Like other monotremes it senses prey through electrolocation. It is one of the few species of venomous mammals, as the male platypus has a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans.

The unusual appearance of this egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, and the first scientists to examine a preserved platypus body (in 1799)[4] judged it a fake, made of several animals sewn together. [5]

The unique features of the platypus make it an important subject in the study of evolutionary biology, and a recognizable and iconic symbol of Australia. It has appeared as a mascot at national events and features on the reverse of the Australian twenty-cent coin, and the platypus is the animal emblem of the state of New South Wales. [6]

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

Platypus[1]
Temporal range: 9–0 Ma
Miocene to Recent
Wild Platypus 4
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Monotremata
Family: Ornithorhynchidae
Genus: Ornithorhynchus
Blumenbach, 1800
Species:
O. anatinus
Binomial name
Ornithorhynchus anatinus
(Shaw, 1799)
Distribution of the Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)
Platypus range
(red — native, yellow — introduced)

Taxonomy and etymology

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). First Description 1799
Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). First Description 1799

When the platypus was first encountered by Europeans in 1798, a pelt and sketch were sent back to Great Britain by Captain John Hunter, the second Governor of New South Wales.[7] British scientists' initial hunch was that the attributes were a hoax.[8] George Shaw, who produced the first description of the animal in the Naturalist's Miscellany in 1799, stated it was impossible not to entertain doubts as to its genuine nature,[9] and Robert Knox believed it might have been produced by some Asian taxidermist.[8] 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.[10]

The common name "platypus" is the latinisation of the Greek word πλατύπους (platupous), "flat-footed",[11] from πλατύς (platus), "broad, wide, flat"[12] and πούς (pous), "foot".[13][14] Shaw assigned the species the Linnaean name Platypus anatinus when he initially described it, but the genus term was quickly discovered to already be in use as the name of the wood-boring ambrosia beetle genus Platypus.[15] It was independently described as Ornithorhynchus paradoxus by Johann Blumenbach in 1800 (from a specimen given to him by Sir Joseph Banks)[16] and following the rules of priority of nomenclature, it was later officially recognised as Ornithorhynchus anatinus.[15] The scientific name Ornithorhynchus anatinus is derived from ορνιθόρυγχος (ornithorhynkhos), which literally means "bird snout" in Greek; and anatinus, which means "duck-like" in Latin.

There is no universally-agreed plural form 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;[10] the correct Greek plural would be "platypodes". Early British settlers called it by many names, such as "watermole", "duckbill", and "duckmole".[10] The name platypus is occasionally prefixed with the adjective "duck-billed" to form duck-billed platypus.

Description

In David Collins's account of the new colony 1788–1801, he describes coming across "an amphibious animal, of the mole species". His account includes a drawing of the animal.[17]

The body and the broad, flat tail of the platypus are covered with dense, brown fur that traps a layer of insulating air to keep the animal warm.[10][15] The fur is waterproof, and the texture is akin to that of a mole.[18] The platypus uses its tail for storage of fat reserves (an adaptation also found in animals such as the Tasmanian devil[19]). The webbing on the feet is more significant on the front feet and is folded back when walking on land. The elongated snout and lower jaw are covered in soft skin, forming the bill. 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.[15] Platypuses have been heard to emit a low growl when disturbed and a range of other vocalisations have been reported in captive specimens.[10]

Platypus-sketch
A colour print of platypuses from 1863

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 (20 in) in total length, while females average 43 cm (17 in),[15] with 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.[20]

The platypus has an average body temperature of about 32 °C (90 °F) rather than the 37 °C (99 °F) typical of placental mammals.[21] 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.[22][23]

Modern platypus young have three teeth in each of the maxillae (one premolar and two molars) and dentaries (three molars), which they lose before or just after leaving the breeding burrow;[15] adults have heavily keratinised pads in their place.[15] The first upper and third lower cheek teeth of platypus nestlings are small, each having one principal cusp, while the other teeth have two main cusps.[24] The platypus jaw is constructed differently from that of other mammals, and the jaw-opening muscle is different.[15] As in all true mammals, the tiny bones that conduct sound in the middle ear are fully incorporated into the skull, rather than lying in the jaw as in cynodonts and other premammalian synapsids. However, the external opening of the ear still lies at the base of the jaw.[15] The platypus has extra bones in the shoulder girdle, including an interclavicle, which is not found in other mammals.[15] As in many other aquatic and semiaquatic vertebrates, the bones show osteosclerosis, increasing their density to provide ballast.[25] It has a reptilian gait, with the legs on the sides of the body, rather than underneath.[15] When on land, it engages in knuckle-walking on its front feet, to protect the webbing between the toes.[26]

Venom

Platypus spur
The calcaneus spur found on the male's hind limb is used to deliver venom.

While both male and female platypuses are born with ankle spurs, only the male's spurs deliver venom,[27][28][29] composed largely of defensin-like proteins (DLPs), three of which are unique to the platypus.[30] The DLPs are produced by the immune system of the platypus. The function of defensins is to cause lysis in pathogenic bacteria and viruses, but in platypuses they also are formed into venom for defense. Although powerful enough to kill smaller animals such as dogs, the venom is not lethal to humans, but the pain is so excruciating that the victim may be incapacitated.[30][31] Oedema rapidly develops around the wound and gradually spreads throughout the affected limb. Information obtained from case histories and anecdotal evidence indicates the pain develops into a long-lasting hyperalgesia (a heightened sensitivity to pain) that persists for days or even months.[32][33] Venom is produced in the crural glands of the male, which are kidney-shaped alveolar glands 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 that do not develop (dropping off before the end of their first year) and lack functional crural glands.[15]

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.[30]

Similar spurs are found on many archaic mammal groups, indicating that this is an ancient characteristic for mammals as a whole, and not exclusive to the platypus or other monotremes.[34]

Electrolocation

Platypus in Geelong
Platypus shown to children.

Monotremes (for the other species, see Echidna) are the only mammals (apart from at least one species of dolphin)[35] known to have a sense of electroreception: they locate their prey in part by detecting electric fields generated by muscular contractions. The platypus's electroreception is the most sensitive of any monotreme.[36][37]

The electroreceptors are located in rostrocaudal rows in the skin of the bill, while mechanoreceptors (which detect touch) are uniformly distributed across the bill. The electrosensory area of the cerebral cortex 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.[38][39]

The platypus can determine the direction of an electric source, perhaps by comparing differences in signal strength across the sheet of electroreceptors. This would explain the characteristic side-to-side motion of the animal's head while hunting, seen also in the Hammerhead shark while foraging. The cortical convergence of electrosensory and tactile inputs suggests a mechanism that determines the distance of prey that, when they move, emit both electrical signals and mechanical pressure pulses. The platypus uses the difference between arrival times of the two signals to sense distance.[37]

Feeding by neither sight nor smell,[40] the platypus closes its eyes, ears, and nose each time it dives.[41] Rather, when it digs in the bottom of streams with its bill, its electroreceptors detect tiny electric currents generated by muscular contractions of its prey, so enabling it to distinguish between animate and inanimate objects, which continuously stimulate its mechanoreceptors.[37] Experiments have shown the platypus will even react to an "artificial shrimp" if a small electric current is passed through it.[42]

Monotreme electrolocation probably evolved in order to allow the animals to forage in murky waters, and may be tied to their tooth loss.[43] The extinct Obdurodon was electroreceptive, but unlike the modern platypus it foraged pelagically (near the ocean surface).[43]

Eyes

In recent studies it has been suggested that the eyes of the platypus are more similar to those of Pacific hagfish or Northern Hemisphere lampreys than to those of most tetrapods. The eyes also contain double cones, which most mammals do not have.[44]

Although the platypus's eyes are small and not used under water, several features indicate that vision played an important role in its ancestors. The corneal surface and the adjacent surface of the lens is flat while the posterior surface of the lens is steeply curved, similar to the eyes of other aquatic mammals such as otters and sea-lions. A temporal (ear side) concentration of retinal ganglion cells, important for binocular vision, indicates a role in predation, while the accompanying visual acuity is insufficient for such activities. Furthermore, this limited acuity is matched by a low cortical magnification, a small lateral geniculate nucleus and a large optic tectum, suggesting that the visual midbrain plays a more important role than the visual cortex, as in some rodents. These features suggest that the platypus has adapted to an aquatic and nocturnal lifestyle, developing its electrosensory system at the cost of its visual system; an evolutionary process paralleled by the small number of electroreceptors in the short-beaked echidna, which dwells in dry environments, whilst the long-beaked echidna, which lives in moist environments, is intermediate between the other two monotremes.[38]

Ecology and behaviour

Animaldentition ornithoryncusanatinus
Dentition, as illustrated in Knight's Sketches in Natural History
Platipus-on-the-surface
The platypus is very difficult to spot even on the surface of a river.
Platypus
Platypus swimming
Swimming underwater at Sydney Aquarium, Australia

The platypus is semiaquatic, inhabiting small streams and rivers over an extensive range from the cold highlands of Tasmania and the Australian Alps to the tropical rainforests of coastal Queensland as far north as the base of the Cape York Peninsula.[45] Inland, its distribution is not well known; it is extinct in South Australia (apart from an introduced population on Kangaroo Island)[46] and is no longer found in the main part of the Murray-Darling Basin, possibly due to the declining water quality brought about by extensive land clearing and irrigation schemes.[47] 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, for example, the lower Maribyrnong, that are quite degraded.[48]

In captivity, platypuses have survived to 17 years of age, and wild specimens have been recaptured when 11 years old. Mortality rates for adults in the wild appear to be low.[15] Natural predators include snakes, water rats, goannas, hawks, owls, and eagles. Low platypus numbers in northern Australia are possibly due to predation by crocodiles.[49] The introduction of red foxes in 1845 for hunting may have had some impact on its numbers on the mainland.[20] The platypus is generally regarded as nocturnal and crepuscular, but individuals are also active during the day, particularly when the sky is overcast.[50][51] Its habitat bridges rivers and the riparian zone for both a food supply of prey species, and banks where it can dig resting and nesting burrows.[51] 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.[52]

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.[53] Uniquely among mammals, it propels itself when swimming by an alternate rowing motion of the front 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.[54] The species is endothermic, maintaining its body temperature at about 32 °C (90 °F), lower than most mammals, even while foraging for hours in water below 5 °C (41 °F).[15]

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.[55][56]

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 under a protective tangle of roots.[53]

The average sleep time of a platypus is said to be as long as 14 hours per day, possibly because it eats crustaceans, which provide a high level of calories.[57]

Diet

The platypus is a carnivore: it feeds on annelid worms, insect larvae, freshwater shrimp, and freshwater yabby (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 it is eaten.[53] The platypus needs to eat about 20% of its own weight each day, which requires it to spend an average of 12 hours daily looking for food.[55]

Reproduction

Ornithorhynchus anatinus - nest with eggs - MUSE
Platypus' nest with eggs replica

When the platypus was first encountered by European naturalists, they were divided over whether the female laid eggs. This was not confirmed until 1884, when William Hay Caldwell was sent to Australia, where, after extensive searching assisted by a team of 150 Aborigines, he managed to discover a few eggs.[15][30] Mindful of the high cost per word, Caldwell tersely wired London, "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; mating occurs between June and October, with some local variation taking place between different populations across its range.[49] 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 mating system.[58] 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.[58]

Outside the mating season, the platypus lives in a simple ground burrow, the entrance of which is about 30 cm (12 in) above the water level. After mating, the female constructs a deeper, more elaborate burrow up to 20 m (66 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).[59] The male takes no part in caring for its young, and retreats to his 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.[10]

The female platypus has a pair of ovaries, but only the left one is functional.[50] The platypus's genes are a possible evolutionary link between the mammalian XY and bird/reptile ZW sex-determination systems because one of the platypus's five X chromosomes contains the DMRT1 gene, which birds possess on their Z chromosome.[60] It lays one to three (usually two) small, leathery eggs (similar to those of reptiles), about 11 mm (0.43 in) in diameter and slightly rounder than bird eggs.[61] The eggs develop in utero for about 28 days, with only about 10 days of external incubation (in contrast to a chicken egg, which spends about one day in tract and 21 days externally).[50] After laying her eggs, the female curls around them. The incubation period is divided into three phases.[62] In the first phase, the embryo has no functional organs and relies on the yolk sac for sustenance. The yolk is absorbed by the developing young.[63] During the second phase, the digits develop, and in the last phase, the egg tooth appears.[62]

Most mammal zygotes go through holoblastic cleavage, meaning that following fertilization the ovum is split due to cell divisions into multiple, divisible daughter cells. This is in comparison to the more ancestral process of meroblastic division in non-mammals (including platypuses), which causes the ovum to split but not completely. This causes the cells at the edge of the yolk to be cytoplasmically continuous with the egg’s cytoplasm. This allows the yolk, which contains the embryo, to exchange waste and nutrients with the cytoplasm.[64]

The newly hatched young are vulnerable, blind, and hairless, and are fed by the mother's milk. Although possessing mammary glands, the platypus lacks teats. Instead, milk is released through pores in the skin. The milk pools in grooves on her abdomen, allowing the young to lap it up.[10][49] 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.[65] 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.[49] A platypus is born with teeth, but these drop out at a very early age, leaving the horny plates it uses to grind food.[66]

Evolution

Steropodon BW
Reconstruction of ancient platypus relative Steropodon

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—still endure.[67] In 1947, William King Gregory 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.[67][68] 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 and placental groups.[67][69] Molecular clock and fossil dating suggest platypuses split from echidnas around 19–48 million years ago.[70]

Platypus

Echidnas

 live birth 

Marsupials

 true placenta 

Eutherians

Evolutionary relationships between the platypus and other mammals.[71]

The oldest discovered fossil of the modern platypus dates back to about 100,000 years ago, during the Quaternary period. The extinct monotremes Teinolophos and Steropodon were once thought to be closely related to the modern platypus,[68] but are now considered more basal taxa.[72] The fossilised Steropodon was discovered in 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, while they have three cusps, they evolved under a separate process.[73] The fossil is thought to be about 110 million years old, making it the oldest mammal fossil found in Australia. Unlike the modern platypus (and echidnas), Teinolophos lacked a beak.[72]

Monotrematum sudamericanum, another fossil relative of the platypus, has been found in Argentina, indicating monotremes were present in the supercontinent of Gondwana when the continents of South America and Australia were joined via Antarctica (up to about 167 million years ago).[73][74] A fossilized tooth of a giant platypus species, Obdurodon tharalkooschild, was dated 5–15 million years ago. Judging by the tooth, the animal measured 1.3 meters long, making it the largest platypus on record.[75]

Platypus skeleton Pengo
Platypus skeleton

Because of the early divergence from the therian mammals and the low numbers of extant monotreme species, the platypus is a frequent subject of research in evolutionary biology. In 2004, researchers at the Australian National University discovered the platypus has ten sex chromosomes, compared with two (XY) in most other mammals. These ten chromosomes form five unique pairs of XY in males and XX in females, i.e. males are X1Y1X2Y2X3Y3X4Y4X5Y5.[76] One of the X chromosomes of the platypus has great homology to the bird Z chromosome.[77] The platypus genome also has both reptilian and mammalian genes associated with egg fertilisation.[40][78] Though the platypus lacks the mammalian sex-determining gene SRY, a study found that the mechanism of sex determination is the AMH gene on the oldest Y chromosome.[79][80] A draft version of the platypus genome sequence was published in Nature 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's genes are common to the other mammals whose genomes have been sequenced.[40]

Conservation

Platypus-plate
A depiction of a platypus from a book for children published in Germany in 1798

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.[51] The species was extensively hunted for its fur until the early years of the 20th century and, although protected throughout Australia since 1905,[65] until about 1950 it was still at risk of drowning in the nets of inland fisheries.[47] The platypus does not appear to be in immediate danger of extinction, because conservation measures have been successful, but it could be affected by habitat disruption caused by dams, irrigation, pollution, netting, and trapping. Reduction of watercourse flows and water levels through excessive droughts and extraction of water for industrial, agricultural, and domestic supplies are also considered a threat. The IUCN lists the platypus on its Red List as "Near Threatened".[2]

Platypuses generally suffer from few diseases in the wild; however, public concern in Tasmania is widespread about the potential impacts of a disease caused by the fungus Mucor amphibiorum. The disease (termed mucormycosis) affects only Tasmanian platypuses, and has not been observed in platypuses in mainland Australia. Affected platypuses can develop skin lesions or ulcers on various parts of their bodies, 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 efficiently. The Biodiversity Conservation Branch at the Department of Primary Industries and Water are collaborating with NRM north and University of Tasmania researchers to determine the impacts of the disease on Tasmanian platypuses, as well as the mechanism of transmission and current spread of the disease.[81]

Much of the world was introduced to the platypus in 1939 when National Geographic Magazine 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 in Victoria. The leading figure in these efforts was David Fleay, who established a platypusary—a simulated stream in a tank—at the Healesville Sanctuary, where breeding was successful in 1943.[82] In 1972, he found a dead baby of about 50 days old, which had presumably been born in captivity, at his wildlife park at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, Queensland.[83] Healesville repeated its success in 1998 and again in 2000 with a similar stream tank.[84] Since 2008, platypus has bred regularly at Healesville,[85] including second-generation (captive born themselves breeding in captivity).[86] Taronga Zoo in Sydney bred twins in 2003, and breeding was again successful there in 2006.[84]

Platypus in wildlife sanctuaries

The platypus is kept, for conservation purposes, in special aquariums at the following Australian wildlife sanctuaries:

Queensland

Platypus house at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Platypus House at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Queensland

New South Wales

Victoria

  • Healesville Sanctuary, near Melbourne, Victoria, where the platypus was first bred in captivity by naturalist David Fleay in 1943.[82] The first platypus "born" in captivity was named "Corrie" and was quite popular with the public. In 1955, three months before a new "platypussary" (after "aviary") was opened, she unfortunately escaped from her pen into the nearby Badger Creek and apparently was never recovered.

International

As of 2017, there is no platypus in captivity outside of Australia.[86] Three attempts were made to bring the animals to the Bronx Zoo, in 1922, 1947, and 1958; of these, only two of the three animals introduced in 1947 lived longer than eighteen months.[90]

Cultural references

Latrobe BigPlatypus
Big Platypus at the Australian Axeman's Hall of Fame

The platypus has been a subject in the Dreamtime stories of indigenous Australians, who believed the animal was a hybrid of a duck and a water rat.[91]:57–60 According to one story, the major animal groups, the land animals, water animals and birds, all competed for the platypus to join their respective groups, but the platypus ultimately decided to not join any of them, feeling that he did not need to be part of a group to be special.[91]:83–85

Platypus cape unknown tasmania
A platypus fur cape. Made in 1890. Donated to the National Gallery of Victoria by Mrs F Smith in 1985

Platypuses has been used several times as a mascot: "Syd" the platypus was one of the three mascots chosen for the Sydney 2000 Olympics along with an echidna and a kookaburra,[92] "Expo Oz" the platypus was the mascot for World Expo 88, which was held in Brisbane in 1988,[93] and Hexley the platypus is the mascot for the Darwin operating system, the BSD-based core of macOS and other operating systems from Apple Inc.[94]

The platypus has been featured in songs, such as Green Day's "Platypus (I Hate You)" and Mr. Bungle's "Platypus". It is the subject of a children's poem by Banjo Paterson.

Australianstamp 1551
9d postage stamp from 1937

The platypus has frequently appeared in Australian postage stamps and coins. The earliest appearance is the 9d Australian stamp from 1937. The platypus re-appeared in the 1960–64 Australian Native Animal Series. Souvenir sheet of "from" Laos and Equatorial Guinea has also featured the animal. The platypus has appeared on a 1987 36 cent stamp and an Australian 1996 95 cent stamp. The 2006 Australian Bush Babies stamp series features a $4.65AUD stamp of a young platypus. A 5 cent stamp also produced in 2006 features the platypus also. Since the introduction of decimal currency to Australia in 1966, the embossed image of a platypus, designed and sculpted by Stuart Devlin, has appeared on the reverse (tails) side of the 20-cent coin.

In the animated series Phineas and Ferb, the title characters own a pet platypus, named Perry, who unknown to them, is a secret agent. The choice of a platypus was inspired by media underuse, as well as to exploit the animal's striking appearance.[95] As a character, Perry has been well received by both fans and critics.[96][97]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Groves, C.P. (2005). "Order Monotremata". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A. (2016). "Ornithorhynchus anatinus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T40488A21964009. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T40488A21964009.en.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ MacFarlane, P. M.; Baudinette, R. V.; Frappell, P. B.; Fish, F. E. (15 February 2001). "Energetics of terrestrial locomotion of the platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus". Journal of Experimental Biology. 204 (4): 797–803. ISSN 0022-0949. PMID 11171362.
  4. ^ "Discovery and naming". Australian Platypus Conservancy. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  5. ^ Walters, Martin; Johnson, Jinny (2003). Encyclopedia of Animals. Marks and Spencer p.l.c. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-84273-964-8.
  6. ^ Government of New South Wales (2008). "Symbols & Emblems of NSW". Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  7. ^ Hall, Brian K. (March 1999). "The Paradoxical Platypus". BioScience. 49 (3): 211–8. doi:10.2307/1313511. JSTOR 1313511.
  8. ^ a b "Duck-billed Platypus". Museum of hoaxes. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  9. ^ Shaw, George (1799). Naturalist's Miscellany, vol.10. London : Printed for Nodder & co. pp. 227–232. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Platypus facts file". Australian Platypus Conservancy. Retrieved 13 September 2006.
  11. ^ πλατύπους, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
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References

Books
Documentary

External links

Acanthopholis

Acanthopholis (; meaning "spiny scales") is a genus of ankylosaurian dinosaur in the family Nodosauridae that lived during the Early Cretaceous Period of England.

Camp Lazlo

Camp Lazlo (stylized as CAMP LAZLO!) is an American animated television series created by Joe Murray for Cartoon Network. It was produced by Cartoon Network Studios. The show revolves around Lazlo, a spider monkey who attends a Boy Scout-like summer camp with a cast of anthropomorphic animal characters. The series has a style of humor similar to the Nickelodeon series Rocko's Modern Life (which Murray also created and is most known for) and SpongeBob SquarePants.The series premiered on Cartoon Network on July 8, 2005, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT, and ran for five seasons comprising 61 episodes, and an hour-long television special. During its run, the series won three Emmy Awards and three Pulcinella Awards, and was also nominated for another Emmy and an Annie Award.

The animated series live-action short of Camp Lazlo in 1997.

Echidna

Echidnas (), sometimes known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. The four extant species of Echidnas and the platypus are the only living mammals that lay eggs and the only surviving members of the order Monotremata. The diet of some species consists of ants and termites, but they are not closely related to the true anteaters of the Americas, which are xenarthrans, along with sloths and armadillos. Echidnas live in Australia and New Guinea.

Echidnas evolved between 20 and 50 million years ago, descending from a platypus-like monotreme. This ancestor was aquatic, but echidnas adapted to life on land.

HMAS Platypus (naval base)

HMAS Platypus is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) submarine base, located at 118 High Street, North Sydney with moorings in Neutral Bay, a suburb of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. It was located upon the site of the Royal Australian Navy Torpedo Maintenance Establishment (RANTME). The Fleet Intermediate Maintenance Activity (FIMA) Workshops building on the site was originally used for torpedo assembly and storage during World War 2. It was later modified for submarine maintenance and repair, with a steel tower added to the northern end of the building for testing, cleaning and maintenance of periscopes.

Learning by teaching

In the field of pedagogy, learning by teaching (German: Lernen durch Lehren, short LdL) is a method of teaching in which students are made to learn material and prepare lessons to teach it to the other students. There is a strong emphasis on acquisition of life skills along with the subject matter. This method was originally defined by Jean-Pol Martin in the 1980s.

List of Camp Lazlo characters

Camp Lazlo is an American animated television series created by Joe Murray. It features a large cast of anthropomorphic animal characters. The series takes place in Camp Kidney, a Boy Scout summer camp in the fictional town of Prickly Pines.

The cartoon is set in a universe inhabited solely by anthropomorphic animals of many species and focuses on a trio of campers attending a poorly run summer camp known as Camp Kidney; the series focuses on three "bean scouts": Lazlo the eccentric, optimistic monkey, Raj the Indian elephant, and Clam the albino pygmy rhinoceros. Other characters include the Camp Kidney staff, including the ill-tempered Scoutmaster Lumpus and his mild-mannered assistant Slinkman the banana slug. The program also features Lazlo's assortment of fellow campers, characters from a rival summer camp attended solely by girls, and some of the odd locales of the town of Prickly Pines.

Lazlo won the award for "Best New Character" at the Pulcinella Awards in 2006.

Moggill Creek

Moggill Creek is a creek in Brisbane, the largest city in Queensland, Australia. The creek rises on the Taylor Range and runs in a south-easterly direction from the southern edge of Brisbane Forest Park in Kholo and Pullenvale, flowing through Upper Brookfield, Brookfield and joining the Brisbane River at Kenmore. Before entering the Brisbane River the creek is crossed by Moggill Road and winds through Rafting Ground Reserve.

Aboriginal naming of Moggil Creek comes from their description of the large water-lizards that were hunted and eaten in the area. They called these lizards, "magil" (moggill) when they were disturbed and jumped into the water.There are various land uses within the Moggill catchment, including commercial and residential areas, grazing and natural bushland. Moggill Creek is an ephemeral creek: during period of low rain it may not flow. In contrast to other waterways in the Brisbane area, Moggill Creek is considered to be relatively undisturbed.Gold Creek is a tributary of the waterway and is dammed by a small reservoir called Gold Creek Dam.

The creek is a platypus hotspot with a number of locations along the creek being good places to spot the shy animal. The creek has the most platypus sightings for any Brisbane waterway, followed by Enoggera Creek.

Monotreme

Monotremes (from Greek μονός, monos ("single") and τρῆμα, trema ("hole"), referring to the cloaca) are one of the three main groups of living mammals, along with placentals (Eutheria) and marsupials (Metatheria). The monotremes are typified by structural differences in their brains, jaws, digestive tract, reproductive tract, and other body parts compared to the more common mammalian types. In addition they lay eggs rather than bear live young, but like all mammals, the female monotremes nurse their young with milk.

Monotremes are traditionally referred to as the mammalian subclass Prototheria. The only surviving examples of monotremes are all indigenous to Australia and New Guinea although there is evidence that they were once more widespread including some extinct species in South America. The existing monotreme species are the platypus and four species of echidnas. There is currently some debate regarding monotreme taxonomy.

Open-pool Australian lightwater reactor

The Open-pool Australian lightwater reactor (OPAL) is a 20 megawatt (MW) pool-type nuclear research reactor. Officially opened in April 2007, it replaced the High Flux Australian Reactor as Australia's only nuclear reactor, and is located at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Research Establishment in Lucas Heights, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney. Both OPAL and its predecessor have been commonly known as simply the Lucas Heights reactor, after their location.

Operation Platypus

Operation Platypus was an operation by Allied special reconnaissance personnel from Z Special Unit ("Z Force") during the Borneo Campaign of World War Two. Platypus involved small groups being inserted into the Balikpapan area of Dutch Borneo (Kalimantan), to gather information and organise local people as resistance fighters against the Japanese.On 20 March 1945, Platypus 1 (also known as Project “Robin”) was carried out, using Hoehn folboats (collapsible canoes) and inflatable rubber dinghies that had been lashed to the side of the submarine USS Perch. Four members of Z Force, in two of the folboats, which had been fitted with outboard motors, travelled to shore 55 kilometres (34 mi) north of Balikpapan. As one of the motors failed to start, both crews resorted to paddling. One folboat, crewed by Sergeants Bruce Dooland (Australian Army) and Bill Horrocks (New Zealand Army), managed to reach the shore. The other folboat, carrying the mission commander Major D. J. (Don) Stott and his deputy Captain Leslie McMillan, both New Zealanders, capsized; both men were reported missing, presumed drowned. At other planned landing sites Japanese patrols were encountered and no further landings took place that night.

On the night of 22 March, the main body of Platypus 1, using folboats fitted with outboard motors, managed to land despite the motors failing. At one stage they were surrounded by Japanese patrols but managed to evade them.

Meanwhile Dooland and Horrocks used mirrors to signal Allied aircraft and were extracted by a US Catalina aircraft. To conceal operational techniques from the Japanese, their folboat was partly dismantled and stowed in the Catalina.Eight further phases of Operation Platypus were carried out.

20–24 June 1945. Platypus 2, Platypus 3, Platypus 4 and Platypus 5, were carried out, when Z Special Unit personnel were deployed with their folboats, from a Catalina aircraft belonging to the US 7th Fleet, to gather information from local people.

30 June 1945 . There were also Platypus 6 and 7 when two parties of Z Commandos were dropped by a plane from Flight 200, into the Semoi area of Borneo on 30 June 1945.

12 July 1945, Platypus 9 party was deployed by folboat via landing craft to Djinabora (upper Balikpapan Bay). and assisted in disrupting enemy barge traffic.

16 July 1945, Platypus 10 patrolled the Riko area using a folboat and a prahu – a robust, locally-built canoe.

22 July 1945, Platypus 11, the final operation of this series, used folboats to reconnoitre and pinpoint prospective target areas .

Perry the Platypus

Perry the Platypus (also known as Agent P or simply Perry) is a bipedal platypus from the American animated series Phineas and Ferb. Perry was created by the series' co-founders, Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh. He first appeared along with the majority of the main cast in the pilot episode "Rollercoaster." Perry is featured as the star of the B-plot for every episode of the series, alongside his nemesis Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. A mostly silent character, his lone vocal characteristic (a rattling of Perry's beak) was provided by Dee Bradley Baker.

Perry is the pet platypus of the Flynn-Fletcher family, and is perceived as mindless and domesticated. In secret, however, he lives a double life as a member of an all-animal espionage organization referred to as O.W.C.A. (Organization Without a Cool Acronym). Many secret entrances to his underground lair exist all around the house; such as the side of the house, most notably the tree that his owners sit under in the backyard, and several other everyday objects that seem to elude the family's attention. Perry also has entrances in Hawaii and South Dakota. He engages in daily battles with Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, an evil scientist who desires to take over the Tri-state area with obscure contraptions that work perfectly according to his intended function but fail in his application of them every time.

Perry was made a platypus because of the animal's striking appearance and the lack of public knowledge of the animal, which allowed the writers to make things up about the species. Critical reception for the character from both professionals and fans have been considerably positive. Merchandising of the character include plush toys, t-shirts, wooden toys, glasses, and coloring books, along with appearances in literature and a 2009 video game for the Nintendo DS.

Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb is an American animated musical comedy television series. Originally broadcast as a one-episode preview on August 17, 2007 and again previewed on September 28, 2007, the series officially premiered on February 1, 2008 on Disney Channel, running until June 12, 2015. The program follows Phineas Flynn and his stepbrother Ferb Fletcher on summer vacation. Every day, the boys embark on some grand new project; these are usually unrealistic given the protagonists' ages (and are sometimes downright physically impossible), which annoys their controlling sister, Candace, who frequently tries to reveal their shenanigans to her and Phineas' mother, Linda Flynn-Fletcher, and less frequently to Ferb's father, Lawrence Fletcher. The series follows a standard plot system; running gags occur every episode, and the b-plot almost always features Phineas and Ferb's pet platypus Perry the Platypus working as a spy (named "Agent P") for OWCA (the Organization Without a Cool Acronym), to defeat the latest scheme of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, a mad scientist driven largely by a need to assert his evilness (although he is not especially evil and has a good heart in some situations.) The two plots intersect at the end to erase all traces of the boys' project just before Candace can show it to their mother. This usually leaves Candace very frustrated.

Creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh had previously worked together on Fox's The Simpsons and Nickelodeon's Rocko's Modern Life. The creators also voice two of the main B-plot characters: Major Monogram and Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Phineas and Ferb was conceived after Povenmire sketched a triangular boy – the prototype for Phineas – in a restaurant. Povenmire and Marsh developed the series concept together and pitched it to networks for 16 years before securing a run on Disney Channel.

Platypus (band)

Platypus was a progressive rock / jazz-fusion supergroup that consisted of members from Dream Theater, King's X and Dixie Dregs. The group was formed in 1997 and disbanded in 2000. Tabor, Myung and Morgenstein would continue working together as The Jelly Jam.

Platypus Man

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

Platypus Man premiered January 23, 1995. The concept of a "Platypus Man" (a solitary male, like the male platypus), the concept of a "cooking show for guys" and the scenes involving the main character's social life were drawn from Jeni's stand-up routines.The show, paired with Pig Sty, followed Star Trek: Voyager on UPN's Monday schedule. Both Pig Sty and Platypus Man were canceled in July 1995.

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 (Oregon's mascot) and a beaver (Oregon State's mascot). For three years, from 1959 to 1961, the trophy was awarded to the winning school. The trophy was lost for more than 40 years before being rediscovered in 2005 and proposed as the game's unofficial trophy in 2007. It is currently awarded to the alumni association of the winning school.

Platypus venom

The platypus is one of the few living mammals to produce venom. Males have a pair of spurs on their hind limbs that secrete venom that is active only in breeding season, supporting the hypothesis that the use of venom is for competition for mates, not for protection. While the spur remains available for defense, outside of breeding season the platypus's venom gland lacks secretion. While the venom's effects are described as excruciatingly painful, it is not lethal to humans.

Many archaic mammal groups possess similar tarsal spurs, so it is thought that, rather than having developed this characteristic uniquely, the platypus simply inherited its venom from its distant ancestors. Rather than being a unique outlier, the platypus is the last demonstration of what was once a common mammalian characteristic, and it can be used as a model for non-therian mammals and their venom delivery and properties.

Sex-determination system

A sex-determination system is a biological system that determines the development of sexual characteristics in an organism. Most organisms that create their offspring using sexual reproduction have two sexes. Occasionally, there are hermaphrodites in place of one or both sexes. There are also some species that are only one sex due to parthenogenesis, the act of a female reproducing without fertilization.

In many species, sex determination is genetic: males and females have different alleles or even different genes that specify their sexual morphology. In animals this is often accompanied by chromosomal differences, generally through combinations of XY, ZW, XO, ZO chromosomes, or haplodiploidy. The sexual differentiation is generally triggered by a main gene (a "sex locus"), with a multitude of other genes following in a domino effect.

In other cases, sex of a fetus is determined by environmental variables (such as temperature). The details of some sex-determination systems are not yet fully understood. Hopes for future fetal biological system analysis include complete-reproduction-system initialized signals that can be measured during pregnancies to more accurately determine whether a determined sex of a fetus is male, or female. Such analysis of biological systems could also signal whether the fetus is hermaphrodite, which includes total or partial of both male and female reproduction organs.

Some species such as various plants and fish do not have a fixed sex, and instead go through life cycles and change sex based on genetic cues during corresponding life stages of their type. This could be due to environmental factors such as seasons and temperature. Human fetus genitals can sometimes develop abnormalities during maternal pregnancies due to mutations in the fetuses sex-determinism system, resulting in the fetus becoming intersex.

Taz-Mania

Taz-Mania is an American cartoon sitcom produced by Warner Bros. Animation from 1991 to 1995, broadcast in the United States on Fox. The show follows the adventures of the "Looney Tunes" character Taz (The Tasmanian Devil) in the fictional land of Tazmania (based on Tasmania).Similar to other Warner Brothers cartoons of its time, such as Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania frequently broke the fourth wall, and often made jokes showing that Taz could actually speak perfectly normally when he wanted to. The intro indicates that, in this rendering of Tasmania, "the sky's always yellow, rain or shine". The title song is performed by Jess Harnell and Jim Cummings.

The Subways

The Subways are an English rock band from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Their debut album, Young for Eternity, was released on 4 July 2005 in the UK and 14 February 2006 in the U.S. Their second album, All or Nothing, was released on 30 June 2008 and their third album Money and Celebrity debuted on 19 September 2011. The band's self-titled fourth album was released on 9 February 2015.

Extant Monotremata species by family
Tachyglossidae
(Echidnas)
Ornithorhynchidae

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