Historical information

The platypus is a semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia. It is the sole living representative of its family and genus. They can grow up to 63cm in length and weigh up to 3kg, and their life span is typically 6-15 years. The unique mix of physical features of the platypus make it an important subject in the study of evolutionary biology, and a recognisable and iconic symbol of Australia. Furthermore, the platypus is culturally significant to several Aboriginal peoples of Australia. The animal has also appeared as a mascot at national events and features on the reverse of the Australian twenty-cent coin, and is the animal emblem of the state of New South Wales.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum and the National Museum of Victoria, as well as individuals such amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


This specimen is part of a significant and rare taxidermy mount collection in the Burke Museum. This collection is scientifically and culturally important for reminding us of how science continues to shape our understanding of the modern world. They demonstrate a capacity to hold evidence of how Australia’s fauna history existed in the past and are potentially important for future environmental research.

This collection continues to be on display in the Museum and has become a key part to interpreting the collecting habits of the 19th century.

Physical description

A long, stocky platypus with a streamlined body and a flat bill. The platypus has four short limbs with webbed feet, and the front-right foot is positioned upright. The hair is short and dense; the upperbody fur has an auburn tint, and the underbody fur is a silver/cream colour. The platypus has two beady black glass eyes.

Inscriptions & markings

On tag:

5899 /