Platypuses Phylum Chordata classifies some of the most unique animals of our time. These animals all are common in a certain way. All chordates have vertebrae, a notochord that runs beneath the dorsal nerve cord, and pharyngeal slits or openings in the throat. Additionally, all chordates have a post-anal tail that is almost always lost, a closed circulatory system and lastly, a beating heart. These derived features indicate their common ancestry.
Although this phylum contains animals with many structural similarities, evolution and adaptations to selected environments forced animals to change to be able to survive and reproduce. A member of Phylum Chordata, the platypus is just one of these thousands of animals that have to compete to make a name for itself in its environment. It’s amazing how these chordates evolved from simple little organisms like tunicates to complex terrestrial amniotes like mammals. The platypus or Ornithorhynchus anatinus is an animal of Phylum Chordata.
This bizarre animal is about the size of a house cat and is covered by thick waterproof hair. Platypuses have a beak like a duck, webbed forearms swimming, clawed hind feet for aid in burrowing, and a broad, flat beaver tail. Also, platypuses have a common opening for the reproductive, excretory, and digestive systems. Male platypuses have sharp venomous stingers on the heels of their hind feet to intoxicate any foe that threatens it. Males are also larger than females in size being 20 inches long and females only being about 17 inches.
Their average weight is roughly three to five pounds. Platypuses’ jaws are built differently than other mammals. They have extra bones in their jaw and different muscles. It is a very unique animal and was hard to classify by scientists because it is a monotreme. Being a monotreme, platypuses are one of a few species of mammals that can lay eggs. Also, monotremes are known to have a sese of electroreception. This means that they can locate their prey by detecting electric fields formed by muscle contractions. This ties in with the platypus’ feeding modes.
It feeds by neither sight nor smell, closing its eyes, ears, and nose each time it dives. Rather, when it digs in the bottom of streams with its bill, its electroreceptors detect tiny electrical currents generated by muscular contractions of its prey, enabling it to distinguish between animate and inanimate objects, which continuously stimulate its mechanoreceptors. They scoop up insects and larvae, shellfish, and worms in their bill along with bits of gravel and mud from the bottom. All this material is stored in cheek pouches and, at the surface, mashed for consumption.
Platypuses do not have teeth, so the bits of gravel help them to “chew” their meal. The platypus has an advantage being semi-aquatic. They inhabit small streams and rivers around cold highlands of Tasmania and the Australian Alps to tropical rainforests of Queensland. In these places, the population of platypuses is plentiful but not really anywhere else on the globe it seems. Also, platypuses can survive living in burrows as well. They’re generally regarded as nocturnal and crepuscular. This means that they are primarily active during the twilight more than during the daytime.
Platypuses are known to be capable of making noises, but these have rarely been heard. Their call is a throaty, clucking sound, and they can also communicate by growling at each other. It is used when they are in danger. Other times it is used a behavioural method to attract mates to produce healthy and strong offspring. Platypuses like to live alone, but they can sometimes share small areas of water together. As you can see, platypuses have strange habitats and communication methods for a mammal.
Platypuses are one of few mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. The females seal themselves inside one of the burrow’s chambers to lay their eggs from winter to spring. A mother typically produces one or two eggs and keeps them warm by holding them between her body and her tail. The eggs hatch in about ten days, and after, the tiny babies (called puggles) drinks their mother’s milk, which comes from tiny openings in the mother’s belly. The puggles are completely helpless when they are born and are about the size of lima beans.
Females nurse their young for three to four months until the babies can swim on their own. Duck-billed Platypuses have a life p of 10 – 12 years. The platypus is unknown to its contribution to its environment. In the past, the number of platypuses decreased due to pollution effects, being hunted for its thick fur as well as being the prey of foxes, snakes, and eels. These days, the platypus population increased because of being put in captivity by the Australian government. They play a crucial role in the food web of streams by foraging on small aquatic invertebrates.
Now, they are not under any immediate threats in their environments. In conclusion, animals are living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organs and nervous system and able to respond rapidly to stimuli. The platypus possesses all these qualities being a sustainable chordate that plays a part in an environment. Its uniqueness of being a hodgepodge of various different animals interested my mind in finding information about its behaviors. The platypus is a one-of-a-kind animal…chordate… mammal…monotreme…thing!
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