Accumulating knowledge and technological advancements have provided insights into many aspects of its evolutionary history and biology but have also raised concern about significant knowledge gaps surrounding distribution, population sizes, and trends. (Related: "Which Animals Have Barely Evolved?"). Given the extent and severity of the threatening processes, coupled with lack of knowledge of past and present trends, there is an urgent need to re-assess the conservation status of the species and establish a national monitoring program. In fact, modern monotremes are the survivors o… However, there is little genetic differentiation between platypuses on either side of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria (Furlan et al. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service by Mt. Ornithorhynchus anatinus or also known as the platypus is a unique monotreme species indigenous to eastern Australia. Flannery, T. F., M. Archer, T. H. Rich, and R. Jones. Restoration of riparian habitat through rehabilitation of river banks by replanting trees and restricting livestock access should become a priority. This suggests that perhaps bioluminescence could be an ancestral mammalian trait, and that perhaps our direct ancestors shared it. ML tree showing mammalian relationships as based on data set I, using all codon positions and a HKY + Γ 4 + I model of sequence evolution (ML partition 123 in table 2; −ln L = 23625.937). 2005; Rowe et al. Platypuses can get stuck in in-stream structures, such as pipes or hydroelectric turbines (Serena and Williams 2010a). A. Williamson, and D. Myers. Venomous males have sharp stingers on the heels of their rear feet and can use them to deliver a strong blow. 1987; Iggo et al. 2016). 2015). 2013). Aboriginal people had also developed a deep biocultural or ecological knowledge of platypuses, which was largely overlooked by early naturalists. Ejection of chitinous parts of macroinvertebrates and crustacean exoskeletons during mastication produces a fine particulate matter that lacks identifiable structures. Most of the useful information on diet has been obtained from analysis of cheek pouch contents. 2018b). Although juveniles have rudimentary, poorly formed, rootless molar teeth, these are shed about a month after the young leave the nesting burrow (Griffiths 1978). Feeding behavior of captive platypuses indicates that preferences are shaped by prey mobility and increased energy consumption associated with preparing for and recovering from breeding (Thomas et al. Afterwards, female platypuses construct a nesting burrow where they lay one to three eggs ~12–15 mm diameter and ~15–17 mm long (Burrell 1927), which they incubate ~10 days (Griffiths 1978) before the young hatch. 2018). E) Three views of a lower right dentary fragment with RM1-3 of Kollikodon ritchiei. Newly emerged juvenile platypuses are 65–70% of their adult mass and 83–87% of their adult length (Grant and Temple-Smith 1998b). Widespread land clearing and degradation of ecological function (disruption of water, nutrient, mineral, and carbon cycles) are major present-day drivers of declines and local extinctions of platypuses. 2004) to establish a reliable estimate of detection biases and how these can inform on population densities. Between 47% and 66% of platypuses in New South Wales and 10% in Tasmania had leptospirosis based on serology, while in Victoria, 25% of platypus necropsied showed suggestive nephritis histologically (McColl and Whittington 1985; Loewenstein et al. Little is known about digestive physiology in platypuses although the diet suggests high proteolytic activity in the secretions of both the pancreas and the intestinal wall (Harrop and Hume 1980). Urbanization is also associated with increased water pollution, increased risks of predation, litter entanglement, road kill, and greater disturbance from human activities (Connolly et al. There should be a nation-wide ban of closed traps targeting crustaceans or fish in freshwater habitats, along with reduction in pollution to reduce mortality. 1992, 1995). In Victoria, where mortality was tracked and could be assigned, 56% of 186 platypus mortalities (1980–2009) were caused by drowning in illegal nets or enclosed traps (also referred to as opera house traps) set to capture fish or crustaceans (Serena and Williams 2010a). 2014; Griffiths and Weeks 2015). The surge in research in the 21st century was driven by more researchers and new technological developments, including smaller telemetry and data logging devices, use of passive integrated transponder tags (“microchipping”) for permanent marking (Grant and Whittington 1991), as well as DNA technologies and sequencing (Warren et al. The platypus is among the most peculiar animals the world has ever seen. Improving water quality and restoration of natural flow regimes could improve functioning and food-web structures, while maintaining longitudinal connectivity and drought refugia. The maximum recorded longevity in the wild is 21 and 25 years in captivity (J. Thomas, pers. Delineating the thermal tolerance of the species is needed to better predict the impacts of increasing temperatures (Kearney and Porter 2009). 2018) acoustic tags. Observations of the platypus in the wild suggest acute eyesight, especially sensitive to movement (Burrell 1927). Mucormycosis was accidentally introduced to toads and frogs on the Australian mainland (Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales) by captive frogs from Melbourne and Perth, but the infection has not been recorded in mainland platypuses. In contrast, individuals from New South Wales appear to have had higher and relatively stable genetic diversity through their history. 2018a). Thomas, J. L., M. L. Parrott, K. A. Handasyde, and P. Temple-Smith. 2008). Rich, T., P. Vickers-Rich, A. Constantine, T. Flannery, L. Kool, and N. Van Klaveren. Platypuses are predominantly nocturnal (Grant et al. The platypus and other monotremes were very poorly understood, and some of the 19th century myths that grew up around them – for example, that the monotremes were "inferior" or quasireptilian – still endure. 5). It's likely an example of convergent evolution, in which unrelated species evolve similar traits. 3). 2018). Such enclosed traps, which are left unattended in the water for extended periods, have relatively small openings (7.5–10 cm diameter) at the ends of internal funnels to prevent animals from escaping. Platypuses hunt underwater, where they swim gracefully by paddling with their front webbed feet and steering with their hind feet and beaverlike tail. Modern platypuses are endemic to eastern mainland Australia, Tasmania, and adjacent King Island, with a small introduced population on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and are widely distributed in permanent river systems from tropical to alpine environments. 2001) and foraging dives in the wild last 30–140 s with around 10–15 s spent on the surface between dives. Platypus Evolution is an episode of HTFF. Platypus diets are often dominated by relatively large aquatic macroinvertebrates from the orders Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera, and Odonata (Faragher et al. Spur wounds heal, indicating that intraspecific envenomation hampers or temporarily disables competitors; death has been recorded only in captive conditions due to multiple spurring (Temple-Smith 1973; Grant and Fanning 2007). 2018). Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark, How the Venomous, Egg-Laying Platypus Evolved. Munks, S., H. Otley, P. Bethge, and J. Jackson. The platypus's milk seeps through pores in its abdomen, not through teats as in all other mammals. Zoos play an important role in platypus conservation by conducting research, contributing to better public awareness of threatening processes, and establishing insurance populations to secure genetic diversity, particularly when considering potential impacts of climate change and the increased likelihood of severe droughts. comm., 2018), suggesting more directed efforts are needed to understand breeding requirements, including habitat and mate selection. 1999, 2001, 2016; Pridmore et al. 1992; Booth and Connolly 2008; Supplementary Data SD1). I jad! Globally, there is growing concern that extinction risk to common and widespread species is rapidly increasing, with little analysis or implementation of conservation assessment and actions. In order to build these trees, you map as many traits as you can (ie. However, considerable genetic representation of the vomeronasal system has been identified in the platypus genome (Grus et al. The semi- So while many things about the platypus remain mysterious. The number of trees cleared over two centuries, Urban stormwater runoff: a new class of environmental flow problem, The urban stream syndrome: current knowledge and search for a cure, Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution, Controlling wildlife fungal disease spread: in vitro efficacy of disinfectants against, Platypus venom genes expressed in non-venom tissues, Tracing monotreme venom evolution in the genomics era, Venom genomics and proteomics: toxinology. 2014; Bino et al. In 2016, the IUCN Red Listing for the platypus was elevated to “Near Threatened,” but the platypus remains unlisted on threatened species schedules of any Australian state, apart from South Australia, or nationally. Depth and substrate selection by platypuses. Serena, M., J. L. Thomas, G. A. Williams, and R. C. E. Officer. One furrier reported selling single-handedly over 29,000 skins before World War I (The Nowra Leader 1938). Archer, M., S. J. Discerning prey direction and location may be achieved by comparing signal strength during side-to-side movements of the bill, along with the input from mechanoreceptors (Pettigrew et al. Probing Platypus Evolution February 6, 2009—National Geographic researchers are trying to collect DNA samples from these odd duck-billed mammals to … (Related: "Platypus Genome Reveals Secrets of Mammalian Evolution."). 2009), the location of that split is difficult to pinpoint. 2015). 2005). ; J. O’Brien, Taronga Zoo, pers. Platypuses require stable banks of rivers and creeks to build burrows for resting and breeding purposes (Serena et al. None of the older monotreme fossils now known from the Early Cretaceous (146–100 Mya) such as Steropodon galmani, Kollikodon ritchiei, Kryoryctes cadburyi, and Teinolophos trusleri (Archer et al. 2001). Platypuses feed exclusively in the water and rest in burrows, typically in the banks of waterbodies (Grant et al. Activity levels also vary throughout the year. In a subalpine Tasmanian lake, radiotagged individuals occupied areas of 2–58 ha over periods of 22–90 days (Otley et al. Naughton, J. M., K. O’Dea, and A. J. Sinclair. 2001; Milione and Harding 2009). Trapping platypuses is time- and labor-intensive and is highly dependent on the depth and flow of water. Dispersal patterns and population structuring among platypuses. 5. Brown, J. H., A. Kodric-Brown, and R. M. Sibly. Hand, and M. Archer. Despite this increasing research effort, key knowledge gaps remain, particularly with regards to the species’ past and present distribution and numbers, and the impacts of threatening processes on population viability. Given that O. agilis DeVis, which is a junior synonym of O. anatinus, is known to have existed in the middle Pliocene at ~3.8 Mya, the possibility cannot be excluded that other events of divergence may have occurred at some point that genetic studies of modern specimens are unable to shed light on. 1998; Proske and Gregory 2003, 2004). 2015), suggesting that males probably compete for territory, females, and other resources (Brown et al. Pian, R., M. Archer, S. J. The modern platypus is endemic to eastern mainland Australia, Tasmania, and adjacent King Island, with a small introduced population on Kangaroo Island, South Australia (Fig. King Ecological Surveys, Oberon, New South Wales, Australia. Search for other works by this author on: School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, Cesar Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Biological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Office of Environment and Heritage, Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia, School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia, Forest Practices Authority, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh, Victoria, Australia, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Southern Clinical School, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia, Healesville Sanctuary, Healesville, Victoria, Australia, Molecular ecology of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), Conservation genetics in the age of genomics, First Mesozoic mammal from Australia—an early Cretaceous monotreme, Back to the future: the contribution of palaeontology to the conservation of Australian forest faunas, Conservation of Australia’s forest fauna Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Australia’s lost world: prehistoric animals of Riversleigh, Tertiary environmental and biotic change in Australia, Paleoclimate and evolution, with emphasis on human origins, Description of the skull and non-vestigial dentition of a Miocene platypus (, Reconsideration of monotreme relationships based on the skull and dentition of the Miocene, Mammal phylogeny: Mesozoic differentiation, multituberculates, monotremes, early therians, and marsupials, Additional evidence for interpreting the Miocene, Comparative cranial morphology in living and extinct platypuses: feeding behavior, electroreception, and loss of teeth, The Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Extinction processes in a transitional agricultural landscape system, Temperate eucalypt woodlands in Australia: biology, conservation, management and restoration, Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia, Energetics and foraging behaviour of the platypus, Energetics of foraging and locomotion in the platypus, Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology, Diving behaviour, dive cycles and aerobic dive limit in the platypus, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, Platypus burrow temperatures at a subalpine Tasmanian lake, Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. Connolly, J., D. Obendorf, R. Whittington, and D. Muir. Altering the natural flow regime can impact resources required by platypuses, as well as reproduction (Serena and Grant 2017). Body temperatures of free-ranging platypuses, The biology and management of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) in NSW, Species Management Report No. 2000; Temple-Smith and Grant 2001; Grant et al. A product of Tapps Games. By comparison, implanted telemetry devices (subcutaneous, intraperitoneal) can generate results for up to a year (G. Bino, pers. Gemmell, N. J., T. R. Grant, P. S. Western, J. M. Watson, N. D. Murray, and J. The presence of fossils of the Queensland lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) and myobatrachid frogs in the same Patagonian deposit further demonstrated the strong faunal links that united Gondwana until at least the Eocene (about 50 Mya). We conclude that conserving the platypus, an Australian icon and an evolutionarily unique animal (Isaac et al. Compared to other mammals, the platypus has a high hematocrit, erythrocyte count, and hemoglobin level, a low mean corpuscular volume, and a high mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, which suggests an adaptation to avoid hypoxia during diving (Whittington and Grant 1983; Evans et al. Yes, platypus are already odd by nature. Sportsmen also shot hundreds of platypuses (The Don Dorrigo Gazette and Guy Fawkes Advocate 1919), some making a living from this activity (Grant and Denny 1991). In New South Wales, breeding, with the onset of courtship followed by nesting behavior by females, begins around August and continues until young emerge from nesting burrows the following late January to early March. Despite sweat glands in the skin, platypuses are not able to withstand environmental temperatures exceeding 30°C (Robinson 1954); its crepuscular and nocturnal activities and burrow use during the day are likely strategies to avoid extreme heat (Grant and Dawson 1978; Bethge et al. This study was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant LP150100093 and the Marcia Evelyn Williams Bequest, School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney. After Europeans first encountered platypuses in 1797, several specimens arrived in Britain and Europe, prompting taxonomic description (Shaw 1799) and anatomical studies (Griffiths 1978; Hobbins 2015), including the confirmation of functional mammary glands (Meckel 1823). Hatchlings are ~15 mm, unfurred, altricial (Manger et al. The odd Australian mammal has an intriguing family tree. Historical accounts of past numbers of the platypus resemble those of many other previously common species that have subsequently declined (Gaston 2011). 1998), based on necropsies of 25 carcasses. Use of novel genetic technologies (e.g., genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, metagenomics, and epigenomics) can offer significant insights into many aspects of life history as well as the capacity of platypuses to adapt in response to changing climates and diseases (Amato et al. Investigations of many aspects of biology using molecular genetic technologies quickly followed (Warren and Grützner 2009), expanding with progressive development and reduction in the cost of new technologies. While modern platypuses are down under, fossil evidence also shows that an ancient platypus lived in South America. Another incredible adaptation is how they forage for food. By the late Oligocene/Miocene (25–15 Mya), at least three ornithorhynchids occurred across the continent of Australia but none survived on other continents. All that remains of that branch of the family tree is the platypus and four species of echidna. Degraded landscapes can overheat and dry out rapidly due to the loss of soil carbon, reducing habitat size and destroying drought refugia (Bauer and Goldney 1999; Kerle et al. 1998; Serena et al. A description of the molar enamel of a middle Miocene monotreme (Obdurodon, The status and distribution of the platypus (, Optimal survey designs for environmental DNA sampling, Causal processes of a complex system: modelling stream use and disturbance influence on the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), The encyclopedia of sustainability: Vol. 2001; Munks et al. It’s a mashup that inspired Mark Anthony Libre to ask Weird Animal Question of the Week: "How did [the platypus] evolve in this unlikely fashion?”. Projected climate change will likely affect platypus distribution and numbers, even though platypuses occupy a broad environmental gradient. 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