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what is a platypus

The animal is best described as a … [41], 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. Also called duckbill, or duckbilled platypus, it belongs to the order Monotremata (see monotreme monotreme, name for members of the primitive mammalian order Monotremata, found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. The Platypus attack, named so after the platypus animal's ability to sense electrical current with its bill, is a first of its kind attack. Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark, A platypus photographed at Healesville Sanctuary in Australia, WATCH: Platypus Hunts with “Sixth Sense”, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/p/platypus.html. [113], The platypus has frequently appeared in Australian postage stamps, most recently the 2015 "Native Animals" series and the 2016 "Australian Animals Monotremes" series. While the venom is not fatal to humans, it results in swelling around the affected area and excruciating pain that can temporarily incapacitate its victim. [86] The species is protected by law, but the only state in which it is listed as endangered is South Australia, under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. [98] Healesville repeated its success in 1998 and again in 2000 with a similar stream tank. Also called duckbill, duck-billed platypus. [11] 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. But there's more to this strange killer than meets the eye. Aquatically adapted platypus-like monotremes probably evolved from a more-generalized terrestrial monotreme. Low platypus numbers in northern Australia are possibly due to predation by crocodiles. Platypuses use their nails and feet to construct dirt burrows at the water's edge. Their head and body grow to about 15 inches (38 centimeters) and their tail about 5 inches long (13 centimeters). Sometimes known as a duck-billed platypus, this curious mammal combines the characteristics of many different species in one. When preserved specimens of the platypus were first sent to Europe in the late 1700s, naturalists … [28] The DLPs are produced by the immune system of the platypus. As if egg-laying, nippleless nursing and electroreception in a mammalian species weren't enough for you to wrap your mind around, the platypus has one more curve ball to toss your way. All rights reserved. [73][75] Molecular clock and fossil dating suggest platypuses split from echidnas around 19–48 million years ago. [11], Dives normally last around 30 seconds, but can last longer, although few exceed the estimated aerobic limit of 40 seconds. 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. All this material is stored in cheek pouches and, at the surface, mashed for consumption. [87], Platypuses have been used several times as mascots: Syd the platypus was one of the three mascots chosen for the Sydney 2000 Olympics along with an echidna and a kookaburra,[110] Expo Oz the platypus was the mascot for World Expo 88, which was held in Brisbane in 1988,[111] 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.[112], 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. [14], The body and the broad, flat tail of the platypus are covered with dense, brown, biofluorescent fur that traps a layer of insulating air to keep the animal warm. Scientists are seeing the Australian platypus in a whole new light. The Platypus Affiliated Society, established in December 2006, organizes reading groups, public fora, research and journalism focused on problems and tasks inherited from the “Old” (1920s-30s), “New” (1960s-70s) and post-political (1980s-90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today. [90][91] The study predicted that, considering current threats, the animals' abundance would decline by 47%–66% and metapopulation occupancy by 22%–32% over 50 years, causing "extinction of local populations across about 40% of the range". [40], Monotreme electrolocation probably evolved in order to allow the animals to forage in murky waters, and may be tied to their tooth loss. In 2004, researchers at the Australian National University discovered the platypus has ten sex chromosomes, compared with two (XY) in most other mammals. As of 2020[update], the platypus is a legally protected species in all states where it occurs, but it only listed as an endangered species in South Australia. [93] Declines in population had been greatest in NSW, in particular in the Murray-Darling Basin. )[11][28], 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. Shaw even took a pair of scissors to the dried skin to check for stitches. [38][83] 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. In 2020 it has been recommended to be listed as a vulnerable species in Victoria under the state's Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. [11], The venom appears to have a different function from those produced by non-mammalian species; its effects are not life-threatening to humans, but nevertheless powerful enough to seriously impair the victim. The extinct monotremes Teinolophos and Steropodon were once thought to be closely related to the modern platypus,[74] but are now considered more basal taxa. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. The milk pools in grooves on her abdomen, allowing the young to lap it up. [6][11][15] The fur is waterproof, and the texture is akin to that of a mole. This causes the cells at the edge of the yolk to be cytoplasmically continuous with the egg's cytoplasm. Platypuses are kept at the following sanctuaries: As of 2019, the only platypuses in captivity outside of Australia are in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in the U.S. state of California. [84][85] 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. The platypus is a semiaquatic animal native to Australia. Explore further Researchers warn of uncertain future for the platypus [55] After laying her eggs, the female curls around them. International Union for Conservation of Nature, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T40488A21964009.en, "The Duck-Billed Platypus, Platypus anatinus", "Biofluorescence in the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)", "Platypus: Facts, Pictures: Animal Planet", "Bone Inner Structure Suggests Increasing Aquatic Adaptations in Desmostylia (Mammalia, Afrotheria)", "Energetics of terrestrial locomotion of the platypus, "Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution", "Platypuses glow an eerie blue-green under UV light", "Platypus 'sighting' in the Adelaide Hills sparks camera set-up to capture extinct species - ABC News", "Life reinstated to much-loved Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary", "Wamsley walks away from Earth Sanctuaries", "V6 Commodore water pump gets the tick from nesting platypus at Warrawong", "Find out how platypuses are faring on Kangaroo Island following the bushfires", "Impacts of water management in the Murray-Darling Basin on the platypus (, "Monotreme Reproductive Biology and Behavior", "Platypus in Tasmania | Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania", "Energetics and foraging behaviour of the platypus", "Early development and embryology of the platypus", "The development of the external features of the platypus (, "Interpreting Shared Characteristics: The Platypus Genome", "The platypus is not a rodent: DNA hybridization, amniote phylogeny and the palimpsest theory", "Molecules, morphology, and ecology indicate a recent, amphibious ancestry for echidnas", "Beyond the Platypus Genome – 2008 Boden Research Conference", "Platypus Sex 'Master Switch' Identified", "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Ornithorhynchus anatinus", A national assessment of the conservation status of the platypus, "The silent decline of the platypus, Australia's beloved oddity", Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, "A stitch in time – Synergistic impacts to platypus metapopulation extinction risk", "Australia's platypus habitat has shrunk 22% in 30 years, report says", "Platypus should be listed as a threatened species: new report", "A national assessment of the conservation status of the platypus", "Rare Platypus On Display At San Diego Zoo Safari Park", "Platypus | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants", "A Brief History of the Olympic and Paralympic Mascots", "Native Animals - Issue Date 13 January 2015", "Australian Animlas Monotremes - Issue Date 26 September 2016", "Disney gives 'Ferb' pickup, major push – Q&A: Dan Povenmire", Biodiversity Heritage Library bibliography, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Platypus&oldid=992172332, Short description is different from Wikidata, Wikipedia pages semi-protected against vandalism, Wikipedia indefinitely move-protected pages, Use Australian English from February 2012, All Wikipedia articles written in Australian English, Articles containing potentially dated statements from 2020, All articles containing potentially dated statements, Articles containing Ancient Greek (to 1453)-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), sometimes referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a semiaquatic egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. [18] The platypus is generally regarded as nocturnal and crepuscular, but individuals are also active during the day, particularly when the sky is overcast. In the 1940s, live platypuses were given to allies in the Second World War, in order to strengthen ties and boost morale. [87], The platypus is not considered to be in immediate danger of extinction, because conservation measures have been successful, but it could be adversely affected by habitat disruption caused by dams, irrigation, pollution, netting, and trapping. Unlike the modern platypus (and echidnas), Teinolophos lacked a beak. Recovery at the surface between dives commonly takes from 10 to 20 seconds. Platypus, ( Ornithorhynchus anatinus ), also called duckbill, a small amphibious Australian mammal noted for its odd combination of primitive features and special adaptations, especially the flat, almost comical bill that early observers thought was that of a duck sewn onto the body of a mammal. es A semiaquatic egg-laying mammal (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) of eastern Australia and Tasmania, having a broad flat tail, webbed feet, a snout resembling a duck's bill, and in the male, venomous spurs on the hind legs. [42], Although the platypus's eyes are small and not used under water, several features indicate that vision played an important role in its ancestors. [52] 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. 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) judged it a fake, made of several animals sewn together. This venom is only produced by the male platypus, and is used not for defense but for competing with other males for mating rights. 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. [87], The platypus is also used by some Aboriginal peoples as a totem, which is to them "a natural object, plant or animal that is inherited by members of a clan or family as their spiritual emblem", and the animal holds special meaning as a totem animal for the Wadi Wadi people, who live along the Murray River. The first occurrence in the fossil record of a platypus-like monotreme is from about 110 million years ago, in the early Cretaceous Period, when Australia was … [77], 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 (until about 167 million years ago). [58] 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. [11] It was independently described as Ornithorhynchus paradoxus by Johann Blumenbach in 1800 (from a specimen given to him by Sir Joseph Banks)[12] and following the rules of priority of nomenclature, it was later officially recognised as Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Although they have a rep… 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. [109]:57–60, According to one story of the upper Darling River,[87] 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,[109]:83–85 and wished to remain friends with all of those groups. Males are also venomous. It has a very characteristic swimming style and no external ears. [88] In January 2020, researchers from the University of New South Wales presented evidence that the platypus is at risk of extinction, due to a combination of extraction of water resources, land clearing, climate change and severe drought. Grooves along the sides of a platypus’s bill help it filter food from the water. They have an elongated duck bill, the furry body of an otter, and a long, flat tail much like a beaver. [11] As in many other aquatic and semiaquatic vertebrates, the bones show osteosclerosis, increasing their density to provide ballast. Platypuses are fascinating animals: While they are mammals, they also lay eggs, and males can detect electrical signals with their bill. [49] There is a population on Kangaroo Island[50] introduced in the 1920s, which was said to stand at 150 individuals in the Rocky River region of Flinders Chase National Park before the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, in which large portions of the island burnt, decimating all wildlife. After mating, the female constructs a deeper, more elaborate burrow up to 20 m (65 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). [52], The International Union for Conservation of Nature recategorised its status as "near threatened" in 2016. These Australian mammals are bottom feeders. [44], Inland, its distribution is not well known. With a variety of unique features, it might be considered one of the most unusual animals in the world. [96], 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. It is one of only two monotremes to survive today. Were mammals originally venomous?, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 51 (1), 2006: 1–11. The platypus is an extraordinary mammal from Australia. [39] 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. [54] The introduction of red foxes in 1845 for hunting may have had some impact on its numbers on the mainland. [62], 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. [70] 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. Instead, milk is released through pores in the skin. 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. 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. [88], A November 2020 report by scientists from the University of New South Wales, funded by a research grant from the Australian Conservation Foundation in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund Australia and the Humane Society International Australia revealed that that platypus habitat in Australia had shrunk by 22 per cent in the previous 30 years, and recommended that the platypus should be listed as a threatened species under the EPBC Act. 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. In addition to the other details that make the platypus such a curious creature, the platypus is one of the few mammals known to produce venom – delivered through a stinger on the hind leg known as a platypus' spur. This would explain the characteristic side-to-side motion of the animal's head while hunting. Scientists generally use "platypuses" or simply "platypus". [69], The newly hatched young are vulnerable, blind, and hairless, and are fed by the mother's milk. [16] The platypus uses its tail for storage of fat reserves (an adaptation also found in animals such as the Tasmanian devil[17]). [67], Most mammal zygotes go through holoblastic cleavage, meaning that, following fertilisation, the ovum is split due to cell divisions into multiple, divisible daughter cells. With the tail of a beaver, and a bill like a duck's, the platypus is a real ungainly creature. The Biodiversity Conservation Branch at the Department of Primary Industries and Water collaborated 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 spread of the disease. The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a unique creature, and an unusual animal in many ways.Platypuses are known for their paddle-shaped beaver-like tail, their sleek body with fur much akin to that of an otter, and the flat bill plus webbed feet similar to those of a duck. [54] 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. Bronze Water Gemwish Badge. The platypus's electroreception is the most sensitive of any monotreme. [116] As a character, Perry has been well received by both fans and critics. 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. [82] The platypus genome also has both reptilian and mammalian genes associated with egg fertilisation. The species is classified as a near-threatened species by the IUCN, but a November 2020 report has recommended that it is upgraded to threatened species under the federal EPBC Act, due to habitat destruction and declining numbers in all states. [34][35], The electroreceptors are located in rostrocaudal rows in the skin of the bill, while mechanoreceptors (which detect touch) are uniformly distributed across the bill. [99] Since 2008, platypus has bred regularly at Healesville,[100] including second-generation (captive born themselves breeding in captivity). [6], The female platypus has a pair of ovaries, but only the left one is functional. The eyes also contain double cones, which most mammals do not have. [36][37], The platypus can determine the direction of an electric source, perhaps by comparing differences in signal strength across the sheet of electroreceptors. [30][31] 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. Affected platypuses can develop skin lesions or ulcers on various parts of their bodies, including their backs, tails, and legs. His account includes a drawing of the animal. Under an ultraviolet lamp, this bizarre-looking creature appears even more peculiar than normal, glowing a soft, greenish-blue hue instead of the typical brown we're used to seeing. [11] When on land, it engages in knuckle-walking on its front feet, to protect the webbing between the toes. The most correct plural of platypus is platypuses. The latter is a difficult task, and only a few young have been successfully raised since, notably at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria. 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. [20][21], 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;[11] adults have heavily keratinised pads in their place. 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. The Platypus is an egg-laying mammal with a duck's bill and webbed feet. Platypus îs Cool. It lives in eastern Australia. Science Advances. [63], 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. The authors stressed the need for national conservation efforts, which might include conducting more surveys, tracking trends, reduction of threats and improvement of river management to ensure healthy platypus habitat. However, local changes and fragmentation of distribution due to human modification of its habitat are documented. It is one of only two families of mammals which lay eggs. After managing to escape after some time, she returned and laid two eggs which hatched into strange furry creatures, so they were all banished and went to live in the mountains. [55] 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. composed largely of defensin-like proteins (DLPs), three of which are unique to the platypus. There is no universally-agreed plural form of "platypus" in the English language. Platypus reproduction is nearly unique. [73] 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. In fact, the first scientists to examine a specimen believed they were the victims of a hoax. [60][61], 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. Platypus are declining and we need to do something about threats to the species before it is too late," Prof. Kingsford says. [6] The name "platypus" is occasionally prefixed with the adjective "duck-billed" to form "duck-billed platypus". Like other monotremes, it senses prey through electrolocation. Masakazu Asahara; Masahiro Koizumi; Thomas E. Macrini; Suzanne J. [60], When the platypus was first encountered by European naturalists, they were divided over whether the female lays eggs. In fact, the first scientists to examine a specimen believed they were the victims of a hoax. [92] Co-author Gilad Bino is concerned that the estimates of the 2016 baseline numbers could be wrong, and numbers may have been reduced by as much as half already. Suggested that the attributes were a hoax under the `` vulnerable '' classification and. Is an excellent swimmer and spends much of its habitat are documented food from bottom! Where it is not covered at all under the federal EPBC Act their meal tail much like a duck beak. British settlers called it by many names, such as `` near threatened '' in 2016 DLPs! Lays eggs, notably at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria most unusual animals in the English.... Notably at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria warm by holding them between her body and her tail animals. 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[ 99 ] superior to all competing rules stored in cheek pouches,. Texture is akin to that of other mammals most unlikely animals sides of the platypus jaw constructed...

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