About 50 million years ago it was joined to a giant landmass called Gondwanaland but it then became separated and it is its isolation that has led to its unique wildlife. There are lots of creatures and plants that live on the Australian continent that can’t be found anywhere else!

The Platypus

Platypus © Alan Couch CC BY 2.0The platypus of Australia is the only survivor of an original species which lived 110 million years ago. Four species related to the platypus have been found in fossil deposits in Australia.

Platypus are grouped in a separate order of mammals known as Monotremata - a group of mammals that lays eggs! Today’s platypus is much more specialised than its ancestors. It has horny pads instead of teeth.

What foods do platypus eat?

The platypus body is about 36cms long, and has a tail roughly 13cms in length. They are covered in a soft, dense layer of fur that varies in colour from yellowish to dark brown.

The male is slightly larger than the female and has hollow spurs connected to venom glands on the ankle of each hind leg. The poison, although not fatal to humans, can be quite painful. The male uses these spurs in competitive mating fights and to protect their territory.

Platypus can only be found in the river systems of eastern Australia.

Why do platypus live in and around rivers?

Although it’s bizarre to look at, the platypus is perfectly adapted to its semi-aquatic life in lakes and streams. It is an excellent swimmer and diver and is able to stay submerged for up to five minutes. It forages at night and rests during the day in burrows dug out of nearby banks.

Its only enemies are large fish and perhaps, snakes.

Imagine how platypus might look in a million years as it keeps evolving!

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