According to Aboriginal legend, the first platypus were born after a young female duck mated with a lonely and persuasive water-rat. The duck's offspring had their mother's bill and webbed feet and their father's four legs and handsome brown fur.

Early British colonists in Australia called the platypus a "water mole". Prior to the arrival of European settlers, Aboriginal people had many different names for the animal, including "boondaburra", "mallingong" and "tambreet".

A Dr Shaw, in his scientific description of 1799, gave the name Platypus anatinus, from Greek and Latin words meaning "flat-footed, duck-like".

While both male and female Platypuses are born with ankle spurs, only the male has spurs which produce a cocktail of venom. Platypus spurrings of people are rare, but the select group who have survived the trauma (often fishermen trying to free them) report pain strong enough to induce vomiting which can persist for days, weeks or even months.

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