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The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), whose name refers to its webbed feet, is a monotreme, or egg-laying mammal native to the wetter parts of Australia and Tasmania. It is also sometimes called the "duck-billed platypus" because of its duck-like bill.
Behavior and Traits
Despite its so-called "primitive" way of giving birth and its comparatively small brain size, the platypus is a highly specialized animal. The bill is actually a highly sensitive sensory organ which can detect the minute electrical impulses of the fish it eats, although just exactly what it is capable of is still being studied. The platypus always closes its eyes tight while swimming, but seems quite unimpaired as it is an excellent swimmer. Male platypuses have venomous spurs on their hind legs, which, while able to kill small animals and is certainly exceedingly painful, has not been known to be lethal to humans, though it has been known to incapacitate victims for months.
When the platypus was first discovered by Europeans, its appearance was so unlike anything ever seen before that some taxidermized specimens were apparently pronounced forgeries. Certainly, the resemblance of certain aspects of the platypus anatomy to the beaver and duck contributed to that kind of misunderstanding.
Fictional platypus characters
- Platypuses (Ty the Tasmanian Tiger)
- Pirate Platypus (Crash Bandicoot)
- Duck Bill Platypus (Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog)
Some may recall the puppet platypus characters from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood as pioneering examples, one of whom (Dr. Duckbill Platypus) was the official doctor of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. The Platypus Brothers from Warner Bros.' animated series Taz-Mania were stereotyped as industrious, like beavers, even though real platypuses only bear a superficial resemblance. Other children's shows taking place in Australia (or at least involving Australian fauna as characters) have typically included at least one platypus.
In the Disney Channel TV show Phinneas And Ferb, the main characters have a pet platypus, who happens to be a secret agent, named Perry (Agent P).
Camp Lazlo has a platypus character named Edward Platypus.
The novel Albert of Adelaide features a platypus character who escaped from Adelaide Zoo.