The Platypus Faces Extinction As Australia Heats Up


Photo: einalem under a Creative Commons license.

As a mammal that lays eggs, has a duck's bill, a beaver's tail, an otter's feet and a venomous spur on its foot (males only), the platypus is a one of a kind animal. I mean that literally: it is the only non-extinct species in its genealogical family and genus. But things aren't looking good for the perplexing animal: as temperatures on its native Australia heat up, the platypus is finding it harder and harder to survive. A new study predicts that 30% of the species will perish by 2070.Platypus have remarkably warm and waterproof fur, evolved to help them survive life in the icy waters where they spend much of their lives. But that fur also prevents heat loss- a major liability, as the platypus habitat in eastern Australia is predicted to heat up by 5° Celsius (9° F).

The platypus is protected under Australian law, but climate change is harder to combat when fighting for platypus than the hunters that once made the remarkable animals' existence precarious. But the silver lining is that the protection of endangered species is a possible route to enacting climate change legislation (at least in the United States).

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More on endangered species fighting climate change:
Four Species Being Pushed Off Mountaintops by Climate Change
How Climate Change & People Are Wiping Out the Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone
'Unsung' Species Stressed by Climate Change Too

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