Christopher Cheng on the platypus

Australian author Christopher Cheng ( wrote about the platypus for Duckbill. Many many thanks to Christopher!
When first discovered by the European settlers and then closely examined by the scientists the Platypus posed a great quandary. Could it be a hoax for here was an animal with the beak of a duck attached to the body of a four-legged creature covered with fur, and it had webbed feet. Not only that but on further investigation it was revealed that this amazing creature laid leathery soft-shelled eggs. How could a creature with a duck like bill suckle milk which oozed through patches on its mother’s stomach and not drink milk through nipples? A strange creature indeed.  Much much later scientist also made an electrifying discovery. The bill of the platypus is equipped with special sensory organs which can detect the minute amounts of electrical energy given out by the muscles of its prey. That’s how it can discover food while swimming under the water and keeping its eyes, ears and nostrils tightly shut.
An Aboriginal legend tells that the first platypus was born after a young female duck mated with a very persuasive water rat. The baby had the mother’s bill and webbed feet, and the father’s legs and fur.

Amazing Platypus Facts

  • Live in rivers, lakes and streams of eastern Australia. A introduced colony also lives on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
  • Can stay underwater for up to 10 minutes
  • Swim with alternating kicks of their webbed front feet
  • Eat up to half their own body weight in food each night. Eat more in winter and less in summer 
  • A fat tail is a good sign – it’s where they store fat.
  • Growl when they’re disturbed.
  • First live platypus displayed at New York Zoo in 1922 – the only one of five to survive the trip to America.
  • Fossils show that platypus ancestors lived in South America millions of years ago.
  • Look at Australia’s 20c coin and you’ll see a platypus!
  • the male platypus has a spiky defence – a spur connected to a venom gland

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s