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Monday, June 4, 2012

Baby Platypus

Platypuses <Ornithorhynchus anatinus> are semi-marine mammals endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania

The female platypus has a pair of ovaries, but only the left one is functional. It lays one to three (usually two) small, leathery eggs (similar to those of reptiles), about 11 mm (0.43 in) in diameter and slightly rounder than bird eggs. The eggs develop in utero for about 28 days, with only about 10 days of external incubation (in contrast to a chicken egg, which spends about one day in tract and 21 days externally). After laying her eggs, the female curls around them. The incubation period is divided into three phases. In the first phase, the embryo has no functional organs and relies on the yolk sac for sustenance. The yolk is absorbed by the developing young. During the second phase, the digits develop and, in the last phase, the egg tooth appears.

The newly hatched young are vulnerable, blind, and hairless, and are fed by the mother's milk. Although possessing mammary glands, the platypus lacks teats. Instead, milk is released through pores in the skin. There are grooves on her abdomen in which the milk pools, allowing the young to lap it up. After they hatch, the offspring are suckled for three to four months. During incubation and weaning, the mother initially leaves the burrow only for short periods, to forage. When doing so, she creates a number of thin soil plugs along the length of the burrow, possibly to protect the young from predators; pushing past these on her return forces water from her fur and allows the burrow to remain dry. After about five weeks, the mother begins to spend more time away from her young and, at around four months, the young emerge from the burrow. A platypus is born with teeth, but these drop out at a very early age, leaving the h0rny plates with which it grinds its food.











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