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The platypus is an Australian mammal that does not fall neatly into a classification. It is one of only two mammals (the other being the echidna) that bear young by laying eggs. In some respects, the platypus resembles a duck; both have webbed feet and bills. The platypus has a tail like a beaver’s and a furry body similar to an otter’s. Its unusual hybrid of body parts makes it well-suited for its largely aquatic life. The platypus uses its webbed feet to paddle through water, and its tail serves as a kind of rudder for steering. While underwater, the platypus uses its bill to scoop up bits of food, such as insects and shellfish, from the water’s bottom. The platypus also scoops up bits of gravel, which grind up the food, as the platypus is toothless. The platypus stores the food and gravel in its cheeks until it reaches the water’s surface. Once the platypus surfaces, it consumes its meal.

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