The Plural of Platypus: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

The word platypus has always been a funny word in the English language. The animal it represents however is super unique. Most people might think of Perry the platypus from the childhood show, Phineas and Ferb, or that odd animal they saw at the zoo. Today you will learn all about platypuses from the history and origin of the word, some fun facts, and some examples of how to use the word.

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What Is the Plural Form of Platypus?

The most correct plural of platypus is platypuses. The word platypus is technically made up but derived from the Greek word platus and pous. If we used the Greek plural, it would be platypodes, but when Greek declined it became more acceptable to add “es” to the ends of words to make them plural. In Latin, the plural form is platypi which is quickly becoming the accepted plural of platypus. 

History and Origin of the Word

The origin of the word Platypus is Latin derived. Although Latin is considered a dead language it is still used in the science community for naming things. 

The platypus was originally discovered by Europeans in 1797. They confused scientists greatly because of their similarities to other species, yet were completely unique. They are one of only a few mammals that lay eggs, they have webbed feet on their hind limbs, a bill, and a thick fur coat. Studying these animals is very tricky because they are hard to trap. They are nocturnal and nets meant to trap them often end up trapping other animals. 

The scientific name for the platypus is Ornithorhynchus agilis. These amphibians are native to Eastern Australia and live in shallow bodies of water, wetlands, and agricultural lands amongst familiar animals like kangaroos and echidnas. These Australian nocturnal creatures sleep in burrows and then spend their nights swimming and hunting small aquatic invertebrates. 

The Platypus breeding season begins around August and continues through early March. A mating dance is done by adult males to attract the females who then build a nesting burrow to lay there eggs. Female platypuses lactate to feed their young but not in the way we are most familiar. They actually do not have nipples, but instead, concentrate milk to their bellies and then sweat it out. 

Unfortunately, this species was declining due to the high demand for their fur in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Climate Change and modern development in their habitat regions are greatly affecting their breeding grounds and they easily become threatened again. They are currently not listed as an endangered species thanks to conservation efforts in mainland Australia and Tasmania. 

What Do You Call a Group of Platypuses?

A group of platypuses is referred to as a puddle. An example of this used in a sentence is, “Look at the puddle of platypuses.” Puddle is a collective noun meaning group. Platypuses however spend most of their time in solidarity and they even avoid each other until mating season. After the mating season, the males leave again and have no part in raising the young. 

Synonyms for Platypus

  • Duck-billed platypus – an amphibious egg-laying mammal, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, of Eastern Australia, having dense fur, a broad bill and tail, and webbed feet
  • Duckbill – an animal with jaws resembling a duck’s bill, e.g. a platypus or a duck-billed dinosaur 
  • Mammal- a warm-blooded animal of a class that is distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, the secretion of milk by females for the nourishment of the young, and (typically) the birth of live young. 
  • Ornithorhynchus Anatinus – the scientific name for platypus

Everyone’s Favorite Platypus

Most kids these days will likely have been introduced to the beloved platypus at a young age. Arguably the most popular platypus, fictional or in the real world would have to go to Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb. 

This platypus is a bi-pedal platypus with a supernatural ability to fight off supervillains. When he is fighting crime he goes by the name Agent P. A running gag for the show is that Phineas and Ferb never know where Perry has been all day while they are off building impossible inventions. They frequently say that he is a platypus and doesn’t do much of anything, just to later show that he is off stopping the world from being destroyed or more likely just stop Dr. Doofenshmirtz from moving a lighthouse across the bay to get some better sleep. He works for the organization O.W.C.A. which stands for the Organization Without a Cool Acronym. 

Examples of the Word in Context

  • “Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry,” Dr Janet Newman, from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, said. – bbc.com
  • Lead researcher Prof Frank Grutzer told the BBC’s Greg Dunlop why the researchers had decided to look at the platypus and its insulin mechanisms: “We knew from genome analysis that there was something weird about the platypus’s metabolic control system because they basically lack a functional stomach.” – bbc.com
  • Based on its size, the researchers have estimated that the new species (Obdurodon tharalkooschild) would have been at least twice as large as today’s platypus. – bbc.com 
  • Looking more like it should belong to a duck, the platypus’s beak is rubbery and contains horny plates with which it can grind up the small invertebrates it finds underwater. Sensing the tiny electric currents produced by all animals with its bill, the platypus finds food even with its eyes closed. Until recently, no one had managed to breed platypuses in captivity and little was known about what happened inside the breeding chamber. Using a small probe camera, the secret underground life of the platypus is revealed. – bbc.com
  • “There’s obviously many moving parts within an engine bay and given platypus have claws there is not much to hang onto,” he said. – bbc.com