Box Jelly fish
"A Platypus is a duck designed by a committee" - anon
" we would like to mention the Platypus, estranged relative of the mammal, which has a duck-bill, otter's tail, webbed feet, lays eggs, detects its aquatic prey in the same way as the electric eel, and has venomous barbs attached to its hind legs, thus combining all 'typical' Australian attributes into a single improbable creature." Douglas Adams
When a Platypus specimen was first sent to England, the local scientists concluded that some smart-arsed Australian had tried to play a joke on them by sewing the feet and bill of a duck onto the body of a rat. The peculiar animal in front of them just looked too bizarre to be taken seriously.
But even more bizarre than its appearance is the Platypus' reproductive system. The Platypus is a monotreme which means that it lays eggs like a bird, but suckles its young like a mammal. The Echidna is the world's only other monotreme.
Although the Echidna is a brave little character that wanders the countryside, the Platypus is shy and heads back to its burrow if it feels danger is at hand. But if it is cornered, the males have a painful sting that is toxic enough to kill a dog.
Due to its bone structure as well as the its peculiar features, some zoologists have argued that the Platypus is the missing link between birds and the mammal like reptiles of the Triassic age of 190 million years ago. (It is not seen as a link between birds and mammals nor does the poison spur does not relate it to venomous reptiles.)
Because the Platypus keeps out of sight, most Australians are unaware just how widespread they are. Many of the big city's stormwater creeks are full of them, where they feed on worms and yabbies. Unfortunately, they are occasionally killed by people washing oil down the drain or using pesticides on their gardens.
In their natural billabongs and rivers, they are threatened by large hoofed animals degrading the river banks where they dig their burrows.
Activity 1 - Icon
Below are examples of the image of the Platypus being used in popular culture. For each example, try to speculate what the designers/selectors were hoping to achieve by using the image of the Platypus.
Activity 2- Industry
Below are methods that allow some people to make money out of the Platypus. How do you think working in each industry would affect attitudes to the Platypus?
Activity 3 - What is the plural?
Is the plural of Platypus Platypus, Platypi or Platypuses?