Duck Billed Platypus By: Brandon Burnett

The platypus, often referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a one-of-a-kind mammal. Similar in some ways to birds and in other ways to reptiles. The platypus is a native of Australia. It is a kind of hybrid and is a member of the rare monotreme order of mammals. They are found in the lakes, streams and rivers of eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania. It is one of the five extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young.

The duck billed platypus first appeared around 135 million years ago and is thought to have split from marsupials and placentals.

Morphological & Molecular Evidence

The echidna is the only other relative of the platypus. Sometimes called the spinney ant eater.

The echidna has a smaller, pointier bill
The platypus looks completely different in my opinion with a big tail and bill and the different skin.

The only really common thing between these animals is that they both are egg laying mammals which means they came from a common ancestor and therefore proves evolution.

Homologous Structure

Homologous structures are when very different animals have bones that appear very similar in form or function and seem to be related. This proves that life on earth has a common ancient ancestor and has evolved over time.

Humans, bats, and platypuses have phalanges but use them in different ways. Humans use phalanges to grab and pick up objects etc., and the bat uses them to fly, while the platypus uses them to walk and swim.

platypus phalanges
Human phalanges
Bat phalanges

Vestigial Structure

A vestigial structure is a structure in an organism that has lost all or most of its original function in the course of evolution, for example a human appendix. These structures show how organisms evolve over time to survive.

When a platypus hatches, it has teeth but they fall out within the first couple of weeks because there is no need for them. This has proved that the platypus has evolved into not needing teeth instead they grind there food on spikey plates on their upper and lower jaw. This is an example of a vestigial structure.

No Teeth
These baby platypuses do have teeth

Transitional Fossil

Platypus fossils are exactly the same as the modern form therefor there is no transitional fossil for the platypus. The only difference is that it loses its teeth when born. A transitional fossil is any fossil which gives us information about a transition from one species to another. These structures prove that organisms change and evolve over time to better suit their environment.


Embryo stage
Hatching from egg
Baby platypus at a few weeks old
older platypus
Fully grown platypus

Comparative embryology is the branch of embryology that compares and contrasts embryos of different species. It is used to show how all animals are related. This proves that organisms on earth started out the same and all had one ancient ancestor and gradually changed over time.

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