The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6
22. Ornithorhynchus anatinus. — The Duck-billed Platypus
22. Ornithorhynchus anatinus.
The Duck-billed Platypus.
This singular animal does still exist in most of the tributaries of the Murray, as the Loddon, Avoca, Campaspe, &c. It is extremely shy, and little is yet known about its habits and economy. It burrows into the river bank from below the water level, and according to Bennett, brings forth 3 young ones at a time; some found by that naturalist were one inch and seven-eighths in length. Its food consists of fresh water worms, mollusca, worms, insects, &c.
This is about all we know of the Platypus, and cannot I do better for the benefit of science than draw attention to Professor Owen's remarks in his elaborate paper on the monotremata; The great anatomist says:—
"The principal points in the generative economy of this paradoxical species still remain to be determined by actual observation.
|1.||Manner of copulation.|
|2.||Season of copulation.|
|3.||Period of gestation.|
|4.||The nature and succession of the temporary structures developed for the support of the foetus during gestation.|
|5.||The exact size, condition, and powers of the young at the time of birth.page 23|
|6.||The act of suckling.|
|7.||The period during which the young requires the lacteal nourishment, and the age at which the animal attains its full size."|
Knowing that many gentlemen in the country take great interest in Natural History, and have frequent opportunities of observing the Ornithorhynchus, I beg to draw their attention to the questions yet to be solved.