The platypus’s skeleton is similar to a lizard’s.

The platypus’s skeleton is similar to a lizard’s. 

All in the Family

Platypuses are found only in Australia. They are a part of a group of egg-laying mammals called monotremes.

Millions of years ago, there were a few species of reptile-like mammals. They had fur and nursed their babies like mammals. They had bird beaks. They were shaped like lizards. Like lizards and birds, they laid eggs. Over time, most egg-laying mammals died off. Today, only two remain: the platypus and the echidna.

Duck Face

What’s the first thing you notice about the platypus? It has the face of a duck. Yet, its bill is unlike any bird beak out there. It’s flexible and spongy. It has smooth, suede-like skin. And it helps the platypus feel its way around under water. How? Its nerve cells sense pressure, movement, and electricity.

The bill also has push rods. They are set in motion by pressure or touch. Push rods can detect tiny movements in the water. For example, they can tell when insect larvae or shrimps move just inches away.

Platypuses are found only in Australia.







new south wales




platypus range

The platypus bill has two more types of nerve cells. They can pick up on tiny electrical signals. These are made by the muscles in the bodies of their prey. Shrimps and larvae don’t stand a chance!

The sensitive bill on the platypus looks like a duck’s bill. 

Toothless Work-Around

A platypus has no teeth. Yet, that doesn’t stop it from crunching up its food. It scoops up its meal along with pebbles and gravel. Then it grinds it all together. The gravel helps crush the food. Then the platypus swallows the food and spits out the stones.

Webbed toes help form a paddle. This propels the platypus through the water.

Waterproof and Warm

Being waterproof and warm is important for survival. Every day, even in the cold, the platypus goes diving for food.

The platypus is built for staying warm in cold water. It is covered in thick, two-layered fur. Air is trapped between the layers. This keeps body heat in and water out.