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Platypus
  1. Air and smell inlets
  2. Beak Snout
  3. Heavy Lids
  4. Cheek pouch
  5. Extendable flipper
  6. Fur
  7. Poison injector
  8. Propulsion paddle

When the first specimens of the platypus were brought to Europe from Australia two hundred years ago, scientists thought they were fakes. They could not believe that the same animal could have fur, a beak like a duck, a tail like a beaver, and the ability to lay eggs. Yet the platypus is real - it is a very rare egg-laying mammal.

Despite its strange appearance, the platypus is a superbly designed underwater hunter. It catches crayfish and worms on the bottoms of muddy rivers where sight is nearly impossible. It is able to search for food in darkness using its specially adapted, beak-like snout, which is filled with sensors and can detect any movement in the murky water. This mechanical platypus shows how the body parts of the animal work for swimming, capturing food, burrowing, and laying eggs.




More About Platypuses:


Air and smell inlets

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Nostrils, which let the animal breathe when only the front end of the beak is at the water's surface.


Beak Snout

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The beak snout of a real platypus is transformed into a multipurpose probe and food grasper. The beak-like snout is a device for finding prey in dark, muddy waters. Some of the sensory endings can find food by touch. Others can pick up tiny electrical currents in the water that are given off by the nerves and muscles of prey. The robot version has both pressure-pad sensors and tiny electrical sensors that do the same jobs.


Heavy Lids

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Heavy lids are a platypus' heavy eyelids. They cover their eyes AND their ears when they're underwater.


Cheek pouch

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The cheek pouch is a food storage vessel.


Extendable flipper

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The platypus' large webbed front feet have two roles. With the flaps extended, they are powerful paddles for swimming. With the webbing flaps turned back, the claws stick out and can be used for digging a burrow in a riverbank.


Fur

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Fur insulates and waterproofs the platypus.


Poison injector

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A poison spur, found only on the male platypus,which is used in fights with other males.


Propulsion paddle

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A flattened tail with fat storage areas, for extra food.


Platypus Facts:


Country: Australia
Habitat: rivers and lakes in eastern Australia and Tasmania
Length: 18 in. (46 cm)
Weight: 4-5 lb. (1.8-2.3 kg)
Closest relative: spiny anteater


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Special thanks to B.J. Heinley and Brian Buschmann.