Tuesday 15 March 2016

Meet The World’s Oldest Wild Platypus

March 3, 2016

Ecologists surveying the platypus population in Melbourne’s waterways identify a 21-year-old male first tagged in the 1990s.

By Vicki Croke

He was out of the water and in the hands of biologists for just 15 minutes, but it was long enough for him to be weighed, microchipped…and for him to keep his record. While most wild platypuses are expected to live no more than 12 years, this guy, called the “grandpa platypus” by an Australian newspaper, and who was first tagged in the mid-1990’s, has reached the grand old age of 21—making him the oldest known wild platypus on record.

Josh Griffiths, senior wildlife ecologist at the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (Cesar), working with a team of students from Monash University, found the super-survivor while on a platypus survey, which he conducts twice a year in Melbourne, Australia.

It could be good genes or good luck or some kind of natural wisdom that have allowed this platypus to survive to an age that is considered to be about twice as long as most of his peers. Griffiths isn’t sure. But he told the Daily Mail that this secretive mammal is “a strong healthy male.” And that part of the explanation might have something to do with a long drought that ended about five years ago in the area. That dry spell reduced the platypus’s population and may have killed off rivals. Platypus numbers have been rebounding since.

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