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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.