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Why is the platypus so unusual?

Platypus swimmingPlatypus swimmingThe platypus belongs to a small group of mammals known as monotremes. They are the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young, as marsupials and placentals (all other mammals) do. There are only five kinds of monotremes: four species of echidna and the platypus. They live only in Australia and New Guinea.


Platypus swimmingPlatypus swimmingClick to play video


The platypus is a river-dwelling mammal from eastern Australia and Tasmania. It has a rubbery, duck-like bill, webbed feet and a wide, flat tail. It feeds on the worms, shrimps, insect larvae and crayfish it finds on the riverbed. The platypus lays soft-shelled eggs. The young hatch out after just a few days. They are suckled (fed on milk) by their mother until they have learned to feed for themselves.

The platypus and echidnas are the only mammals that lay eggs.

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