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Archive for May 7th, 2008

Another Hiatus: Exams


This Wildlife Wednesday post was my last until next week because of my upcoming exams.  I feel blogging would be a distraction.  Sorry.

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The Platypus, or Ornithorhynchus anatinus, is a monotreme native to Australia.  A monotreme is a very strange type of mammal.  Although it is technically a mammal as it secretes milk for its offspring and has hair, it also lays eggs.  Due to its strange appearance, it was first thought to be a joke when the stuffed carcass was brought back to England.

The Intriguing Duck-billed Platypus

The Platypus lives to be around ten years old.  They have short, dense dark brown fur on their back with a light brown underside.  Their bill is surprisingly flexible.  The bill is also very complex, being covered in sensory receptors that respond to electrical and tacitile changes.  Their short, webbed limbs hide venom ducts in males which are used in self defense or during fights for mating rights.  The venom is strong enough to cause pain in humans!   Their tail resembles that of a beaver and it aids in swimming and fat storage. 

Platypi hunt small frogs, crayfish, and insects in their freshwater habitats.  They usually hunt at night and sleep in their dens during the day.  These monotremes are also very adept swimmers who can close their eyes and nostrils while swimming or diving. 

Other notable monotremes include Echidnas (or Spiny Anteaters) which is also exclusive to that obviously strange island of Australia.

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