10 October 2011

"Duck-billed platypus" is redundant

According to Australian wildlife, via A Walk in the WoRds...
The platypus's scientific name, ornithorhynchus anatinus, is derived from a combination of the Greek words for "bird-snout" and "duck-like". The word platypus also comes from the Greek for "flat" and "foot". The term "duck-billed" often prefixes platypus but since there is no other type this term is redundant. There is no agreed term for the plural of platypus, with platypus, platypoda and platypuses all being used.
Also of interest:
When a platypus swims it does so with its eyes, ears and nostrils closed and so probably cannot sense the non-moving part of its environment. However, it can sense prey by means of electrolocation, the ability to detect the tiny electric impulses given off by animals when they move. The platypus disturbs the bottom of the stream bed with its bill and in doing so induces movement in prey. It has the most sensitive electrolocation ability of any mammal...

Upon hatching the young are blind and hairless and are fed on milk secreted from the mothers skin (Platypuses have no nipples
 See also my previous post on platypus genes and platypus venom.

Image credit.


  1. A man was writing a letter.

    "Dear Sir," he wrote, "please send me two platypuses."

    That didn't look right. He tore up the letter and started again.

    "Dear Sir, please send me two platypoda."

    That just looked silly. He threw it out as well and thought for a while. Then he wrote:

    "Dear Sir, please send me one platypus.

    "And while you're at it, send me another one."

    (Adapted for the occasion from the original, in which the request is for mongooses/mongeese.)

    --Swift Loris

  2. My vote would be for platypi

  3. I asked John the Octopus and, yeah, he said pi too.
    Then I asked the guy with 2 penii and he too said pi.
    While I was at the local cafe I had 2 cappucini and the barista advised me that it should be platypi, and lets face it, he should know, he is Australian. Then I passed n antiques shop and in the window were 2 blunderbusses.............so I just gave up.
    .........pi r squared...around in circles.

  4. [a related page from Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale]

    ...I would have described it briefly myself, but why bother? That's one of Dawkins' best books.


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