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Presents factual information, a colourful history and biological investigation of this Australian icon.

Since it first became known to European scientists and naturalists in 1798, the platypus has been the subject of controversy, interest and absolute wonder. Found only in Australia, the platypus is a mammal that lays eggs but, like other mammals, it has fur and suckles its young on milk. Many early biologists who visited the British colonies in Australia, including Charles Darwin, went out of their way to observe this remarkable animal. In Australia today the species is considered to be an icon, but one that many Australians have never seen in the wild. + Full description

This book presents established factual information about the platypus and examines the most recent research findings, along with some of the colourful history of the investigation of its biology. This completely updated edition covers its anatomy, distribution and abundance, breeding, production of venom, unique senses, ecology, ancestry and conservation. It includes a 'Frequently Asked Questions' section for the general reader and, for those wishing to find out more detailed information, a comprehensive reference list.

- Short description


No longer available in a print edition.


"I would recommend the books in the Australian Natural History Series to anyone looking for more general background information on these species."
Samantha S. Wisniewski, The Journal of Wildlife Management Vol 73 May 2009

"Dr Grant does an excellent job of presenting all the facts non-specialists… will want to know about the platypus."
Nicholas Gould, International Zoo News, July/August 2008

"Grant's book provides a solid base to anyone interested in the platypus. It is a good compilation of the recent advances in genetics, ecology and behaviour."
Guillermo W Rougier and Cynthia Corbitt, Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 2008

"There are good illustrations, good pictures and good science. This is a book well worth buying, even if you have a previous edition. Congratulations to CSIRO Publishing for keeping this valuable Natural History Series alive."
M.L. Augee, Linnean Society of NSW Newsletter, 2008

"Highly recommended."
A. G. Ferguson, CHOICE Magazine, April 2008

"This publication will be valued by anyone with an interest in the platypus. The author is to be commended for clearly explaining a broad range of scientific findings and also indicating where the boundaries of current knowledge lie."
Ripples, Newsletter of the Australian Platypus Conservatory, Issue 37, 2008


ePDF | October 2007
ISBN: 9780643101272
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Focuses on making knowledge of the biology of this iconic species accessible to the general reader
  • Completely revised from the 1989 and 1995 editions, it presents an up-to-date coverage of what is currently known about the platypus, including the most recent research findings
  • Makes a comprehensive list of original research and review articles available to academic biologists and environmental consultants
  • Includes a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section for the general reader


1 Introduction
2 Breeding biology
3 Spurs and venom glands
4 The sensory world of the platypus
5 Energetics, diving and foraging
6 Ecology
7 Ancestry and evolution
8 Conservation: platypuses and people
9 Questions, answers and misconceptions


Tom Grant has been researching various aspects of the biology of the platypus for over three decades, including environmental assessment studies involving the species. He is an environmental consultant and Visiting Fellow in Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

Dominic Fanning has been involved in a number biological research projects, including work on the platypus, and is currently an environmental consultant. As well as illustrating the three previous editions of this book, he has illustrated several other publications.