Future uncertain for Australia's unique platypus: researchers

November 29, 2018
These platypus twin puggles were born in captivity in 2003

Australia's unique platypus population is shrinking under pressure from agriculture and pollution, putting the egg-laying mammals' future in doubt, researchers said in a report published Thursday.

A three-year survey of the duck-billed animal suggested its numbers had fallen by 30 percent, to around 200,000, since Europeans settled the continent two centuries ago.

"We have great concerns about the future survival of this unique species," said Richard Kingsford, director of the University of New South Wales Centre for Ecosystem Science.

Threats endangering the platypus in its eastern Australian habitats include increased land-clearing for agriculture, pollution, dam building and , Kingsford said in a statement.

Kingsford and his team called on authorities to elevate the protected status of the platypus from near-threatened to vulnerable.

They said that while varied in different regions of eastern Australia, platypuses had already disappeared from some areas.

"We cannot afford as a world, let alone Australia, to let his animal go extinct and we know that it's gone extinct in some areas already," Kingsford told the national broadcaster ABC.

The semi-aquatic platypus, which along with four species of echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs, is one of the world's strangest , with the bill of a duck, tail of a beaver, otter-like feet and a venomous spur on its hind leg.

Explore further: Platypuses decapitated in 'despicable' Australia killings

Related Stories

Fossil of largest known platypus discovered in Australia

November 4, 2013

No living mammal is more peculiar than the platypus. It has a broad, duck-like bill, thick, otter-like fur, and webbed, beaver-like feet. The platypus lays eggs rather than gives birth to live young, its snout is covered ...

Uni leads study on echidna sex life

August 22, 2007

A University of Adelaide-led project will study the genetic makeup of one of Australia's most iconic animals, the echidna, to give an unprecedented insight into their sex life and behaviour.

How the echidna lost its venom

November 19, 2013

(Phys.org) —The function of a spur on the hind leg of echidnas has been revealed by research at the University of Sydney.

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.