It’s venomous, It’s got a duck’s bill, and otter’s feet and a mammal’s body. Oh, and it lays eggs. No wonder Western naturalists were confused by the platypus when it was first introduced. The platypus, along with the echidna, is a monotreme (egg-laying mammal). It’s native to Australia and Tasmania where it was hunted to near-extinction during the 1800s for its fur, but has been protected since the turn of the 20th century.
The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Together with the 4 species of echidna, it is 1 of the 5 extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth. The unusual appearance of this egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled naturalists. It is one of the few venomous mammals, the male platypus has a spur on the hind foot that delivers a painful venom.