Among the strangest-looking animals on the planet we certainly include theplatypus. Also called a platypus, it is a small mammal of the order of monotremes which lays eggs. But where does the platypus live? What does it eat? Is it true that it is poisonous? What are its anatomical and behavioral peculiarities? Let’s go and find out together.
Scientific classification of the platypus
This is the scientific classification of the platypus:
- Dominio: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Animals
- Sottoregno: Eumetazoa Bilateria
- Superphylum: Deuterostomy
- Phylum: Chordata
- Clade: Craniata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
- Clade: Eugnathostomata
- Clade: Teleostomi
- Superclasse: Tetrapoda
- Clade: Amniota
- Class: Mammalia
- Subclass: Prototheria
- Order: Monotremata
- Family: Ornithorhynchidae
- Genus: Ornithorhynchus
- Species: O. anatinus
Where does she live?
The platypus lives in rivers and small streams in the mountainous regions of Tasmania and the Australian Alps. It is also found in the tropical rainforests of the Queensland coasts up to the Cape York peninsula.
It is not known, however, how widespread it is inland or how many platypuses there are in the world. What is certain is that in the wild it became extinct in southern Australia, although a small population has been reintroduced to Kangaroo Island.
Characteristics of the platypus and hints of biology
The anatomy and physiology of the platypus are unique, which is why we can call it one of the strangest animals in the world. Has a low metabolism compared to other mammals: his average body temperature is 32 ° C (in general, mammals travel around 38 ° C). The body and tail, broad and flat, are covered with brown fur.
The legs are webbed, the muzzle is broad and hard: it resembles the beak of a duck.
In size, the weight it varies from a light kilo to more than two kilos, while the length ranges from 30 to 40 cm with a tail from 10 to 15 cm. Males are larger than females.
But the particularities did not end there. While platypus pups have three-cusp molars, typical of mammals, there are no teeth in adults. The maxilla and mandible are also different from those of mammals, as is the muscle responsible for opening them.
The external opening of the ears is located at the base of the jaw. Compared to other mammals, it also has additional bones in the collarbone. Another detail: the legs are placed on the sides of the body and not below, a factor that gives it a gait more similar to that of reptiles.
Since it is a monotreme ha the cloaca, therefore from a single opening it lays eggs, urinates and defecates.
The poison of the platypus
A separate chapter deserves the venom of the platypus. The male it has a hollow spur positioned on each of its hind legs. Use this spur to inject poison or to defend against predators or to fight against rivals for the territory.
The poison seems to contain peptides and molecules with non-fatal effects for humans, but which can seriously injure the victims. In addition, the poison can be deadly to dogs and other small pets. And for such poison there is no antidote. THE symptoms described in humans are:
- edema around the injection site which then spreads
- hyperalgesia lasting days or months
As for the reproduction, the female platypus digs very large burrows at the end of which it makes its nest. The breeding season is localized either in late winter or early spring.
As anticipated, platypuses are monotremes, do not give birth to live offspring, but lay eggs in the nest. The eggs are kept inside the body for some time before being laid. After 10 days of incubation the eggs hatch and give rise to newborn platypus cubs hairless clinging to the mother.
The latter suckles the young, but, unlike other mammals, it has no nipples. Milk is secreted through pores on the skin: the platypus cub it nourishes itself by attaching itself to the womb of the mother. After 3-4 months of nursing, the young begin to come out of the burrows.
Behavior of the platypus
For what concern behavior of the platypus, it’s a nocturnal animal and semi-aquatic. He’s a very good one swimmer and spends most of his time in the water. When it swims it keeps its eyes closed, paddles with its front legs and changes direction with its tail and hind legs, which however do not intervene in the movement.
When not in the water, platypuses hide in burrows located on the banks and hidden by the roots.
Diet and nutrition
Come supply, the platypus is a carnivorous. His diet it consists of worms, grubs, insects, freshwater shrimp and even small mammals. Its beak is extremely sensitive and can hunt without using its sight.
It boasts a particular sense, one of the few mammals to be endowed with it, theelectrolocation. It means that it is capable of identifying prey by detecting body electricity. The necessary electroreceptors are found in the skin of the beak, while the mechanoreceptors are found along the entire beak.
Curiosities about the platypus
These are some small ones curiosity about the platypus:
- The scientific name Ornithorhynchus comes from two Greek words, “ornis” which means bird and “rhynchos” which means snout
- The platypus is one of the five species still living in the order of monotremes, the only mammals to lay eggs instead of giving birth to the young. The other four species are part of the echidna
- He is also the only representative of both his family and his gender
- The platypus’s fur is bioluminescente, like that of the possum and the flying squirrel
- Platypuses have 10 sex chromosomes, while most mammals only have 2 (XY). Males have five pairs of the X chromosome and 5 of the Y chromosome (females have ten Xs of course)
- The platypus is the symbol of the Australian state of New South Wales
- In the movie Dogma, the platypus is cited as proof of God’s sense of humor
- I Pokémon of the first generation Psyduck and Golduck are partly inspired by platypuses
- Someone argues that even the Snasi in Harry Potter are inspired by platypuses
A platypus as a pet?
Absolutely not, the platypus is a wild animal a risk of extinction and as such it cannot be kept as a pet. At most in captivity it is possible to find them in recovery centers or zoos, but it is certainly not to be kept at home as a pet.
Source: GreenStyle by www.greenstyle.it.
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