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.


Source: rainforest australia, mbgnet


9 responses »

  1. Leo Costa says:

    Leo Costa (biodiversity class): Its interesting to see how animals physically change in order to adapt to their surroundings. Its fascinating to see the power of behavioral adaptations in animals.

  2. caitlinrdavis says:

    I have always found the platypus to be a strange animal. I’m glad to hear that they have great survival skills so they are in no danger of going exinct. It’s fasinating how they can behaviorally adapt to ways of surviving such as changing their sleep schedule to become nocturnal animals, because their predators do not come out during the night. It’s intersting how the platypus has to walk on its knuckles on dry land because it is too difficult for them to walk on their feet because of their feet are webbed. However, their webbed feet make for great swimming.

  3. It would be so cool if they could be pets šŸ˜›

    On a serious note, I always imagined Platypuses to be an animal that bridges sea fish and land mammal, I do not know if it’s actually true, it just appears so.

  4. Ann Putney says:

    The platypus is such an amazing little creature. It’s crazy to see an animal that can adapt to it’s environment like that. I want one šŸ™‚

    I’m glad to know they will be around for a long time!

  5. Jillian :D says:

    Oh my goodness it is so cute! Besides that, the fact that the platypus has adapted to basically anything and is in no danger of becoming extinct is very impressive. When I first heard about the platypus in elementary school I thought it was a beaver because of its tail, but was I wrong. I wonder how long it took this animal to adapt to its environment. The fact that this animal has changed its sleeping habits to a more nocturnal schedule in order to avoid its predators that hunt during the day is amazing. It makes me want to grow webbed feet and hands to swim better in the water. Then again I could just buy fins at the store to do that, which is our kind of adaptation as humans.

  6. It’s so amazing to know that animals in the wild have the ability to adapt to their environment in several ways, it’s news to me that the platypus was one of those animals to succeed at it. Go platypus’! More power to them. And the picture that was used in this post is the cutest picture I’ve seen of a platypus, I want one

  7. Rosaleen Magnone says:

    It is truly incredible the way evolution works! For an animal, that we would think has a lot of physical setbacks, to be able to adapt to so many things and thrive is amazing. And if i’m not mistaken aren’t platypus venomous?

  8. Its great to stop for a moment and think about how all the traits of an animal that can at first seem silly or outlandish are actually very much a function of their needs. Nature is still the best designer you could ever learn from!


  9. I love these creatures. I just think they are the cutest things ever and they have such a genuine look in their eyes where I just can’t look away.

    ~Mackenzie Vartanian

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