Behavioral adaptations can be seen in virtually every species on the planet. From dolphins to Spiders to Whales and people, animals have been adapting their behaviors to fit their environment for eons. One animal in particular, the homely Platypus, is an interesting case apart from the rest. The platypus, natures little joke, with its webbed toes and duck like bill; its beaver-like tail and body. This little critter has adapted physically quite awkwardly, yet it thrives in the wilderness. It is in no danger of going extinct. How? Behavioral adaptations are the answer to the platypus’ apparent evolutionary setbacks.
One of the most interesting facts about the platypus is that even though it has four webbed feet, it only uses two of them for propulsion while swimming. The Platypus has adapted behaviorally to use only its front paws for propulsion while tucking its hind legs up against its tail for speed. The platypus will only use its hind legs for steering or braking when needed. This is interesting because many other web-toed animals (a dog or more closely related, an otter) use all four legs to swim in water.
The platypus is also mostly nocturnal as well. This is a unique advantage for the platypus seeing as most of the platypus’ predators are day hunters. The platypus has adapted its sleeping behaviors to fit its survival methods. Just another behavioral adaptation allowing nature’s misfit to survive in the waters of Australia.
Third, the platypus has changed the way it walks to and from place to place to overcome its physical setbacks. They have large front webbed feet to help with swimming. The one setback of having so well adapted to aquatic life is that the webbing on their big feet extends past their physical toes. This makes walking around on dry land a definite problem for them. The platypus adapted its behavior to overcome this awkward webbing by choosing to not walk normally at all but to walk on their knuckles at all times while they are on dry land. This adaptation has worked out surprisingly well for them considering that they are very proficient walkers on land.
The last, and quite possible the most important behavioral adaptation found in the platypus is their burrowing habits. Platypuses build burrows in the ground for mating just like their father did before them. The do this so that the animal’s eggs will be protected from the weather and from competing predators. They Make a burrow uphill and climb inside of it to mate and lay their eggs. This adaptation, the ability to not only know that a burrow must be made, which is a significant behavioral adaptation, but that it must be made uphill for added protection is simply fascinating.
The Platypus is a unique testament to the power of behavioral adaptations in animals, one can only hope that other animals become so well adapted to their environments like the platypus has to its. The future is limitless when it comes to the adaptations of the worlds creatures.