Since its discovery 200 years ago, the platypus still confuses scientists; with its beaver tail, duck beak, feet of an otter and hair covering the body, it was considered so strange at first, that many said it was a fraud, not a real animal.


Endemic to Australia, is one of the only two known mammals that lay eggs (the other being the echidna), it has nocturnal habits and males have poisonous spurs on the feet.


Scientists said they have mapped the genetic makeup of the platypus — one of nature's strangest animals with a bill like a duck's, a mammal's fur and snake-like venom.


Mammal with bird and repitles features


The platypus is classed as a mammal because it has fur and feeds its young with milk. It flaps a beaver-like tail. But it also has bird and reptile features — a duck-like bill and webbed feet, and lives mostly underwater. Males have venom-filled spurs on their heels.


Scientists believe all mammals evolved from reptiles, and the animals that became platypuses and those that became humans shared an evolutionary path until about 165 million years ago when the platypus branched off. Unlike other evolving mammals, the platypus retained characteristics of snakes and lizards, including the pain-causing poison that males can use to ward off mating rivals


Platypus reproduction is nearly unique. It is one of only two mammals (the echidna is the other) that lay eggs.
Females seal themselves inside one of the burrow's chambers to lay their eggs. A mother typically produces one or two eggs and keeps them warm by holding them between her body and her tail. The eggs hatch in about ten days, but platypus infants are the size of lima beans and totally helpless. Females nurse their young for three to four months until the babies can swim on their own
Platypuses hunt underwater, where they swim gracefully by paddling with their front webbed feet and steering with their hind feet and beaverlike tail.
These Australian mammals are also  bottom feeders. They scoop up insects and larvae, shellfish, and worms in their bill along with bits of gravel and mud from the bottom. All this material is stored in cheek pouches and, at the surface, mashed for consumption. Platypuses do not have teeth, so the bits of gravel help them to "chew" their meal.

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