Platypus - What they are, characteristics of the species
The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is an Australian mammal belonging to the Order Monotremata, whose main characteristic is that it is a mammal that lays eggs. It is the only representative of the Ornithorhynchidae family. This animal is very peculiar and has some features that are not found in other mammals, such as the presence of a beak, a membrane on the legs and stings attached to a poison gland.
Platypuses spend most of their time in water and from there they get their food, which consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates. A curious fact about this animal is that its milk contains a protein with antibacterial properties.
General characteristics of the platypus
The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a small mammal that weighs about 1.5 kg, measures about 38 cm (head and body) and its tail is about 13 cm. It has a nocturnal habit and spends most of its time in the water. It can also be found resting in galleries dug by it in river banks; these galleries can be up to 12 meters long. Like the other mammals, it has a body covered in hair, which is impermeable.
As this animal spends much of its time in water, it has some characteristics that allow it to remain immersed, such as
- folds of skin that cover the eyes and ears;
- a seal on the nose that prevents water from entering;
- membranes on its legs that help it to swim.
- Korean beak in adults and teeth in pups;
- a flattened beaver-like tail that also aids in swimming;
- stingers on the hind legs of males attached to a poison gland, which helps them in defense and also in the breeding season, when fighting occurs with other males;
- they are oviparous.
Conservation of the platypus
Curiosities about the platypus
- It can live about 20 years in the wild.
- The milk of the platypus has a protein with antibacterial properties and is being studied for possible use in the production of a new type of antibiotic, which could help combat superbacteria.
- The males contain in their venom a hormone that acts by releasing insulin, thus lowering the concentration of glucose in the blood. As the hormone produced by these animals has a longer lasting action than the one produced by humans, it is being studied so that, in the future, it can be used in the treatment of diabetes.