The silent decline of the platypus, Australia’s beloved oddity
Recent studies suggest the duck-billed mammal is not as widespread as thought, in part due to centuries of hunting and habitat loss.
The platypus is one of Australia’s most beloved species—and, seemingly, one of its most resilient. Even as many of the continent’s native fauna declined or disappeared throughout the 20th century, the quirky duck-billed mammal with webbed feet was seen regularly enough that there was little urgency to monitor the animal’s populations. That is, until biologists began to realize the freshwater dwellers weren’t ok, and they probably weren’t all along.
“The platypus has declined right in front of our noses,” says Tahneal Hawke, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New South Wales and a researcher with the Platypus Conservation Initiative.
“We have a huge area across the range of the platypus where we literally don't know