Glowing Platypus – Biomimicry Journal

Platypuses are remarkable creatures that have a beak and lay eggs. They are not classed as a bird, they are known as monotremes – mammals that lay eggs.

They are also biofluorescent animals, which is different from bioluminescence, where the animal either produces the light itself or hosts other organisms that shine. Various plants, fungi, flowers, insects, fruits and birds can glow under UV light but now they are finding that some mammals like the fascinating platypus can glow. In natural light, platypus’ fur looks brown but when scientists put museum specimens under UV light their fur glows green or blue.

Scientists have known that various plants, fungi, fruits, flowers, insects, and birds can glow, but that mammals can glow are a very recent discovery. Some species of flying squirrels and opossums have fluorescent fur. These biofluorescent mammals do not have much in common apart from being nocturnal – active during the night. Nocturnal mammals might be more likely to glow, yet, it is unclear exactly why. Glowing might be a way to confuse predators.

Previously, we painted a puffin in the Biomimicry Journal with a beak that is almost glowing! So now you can add a glowing platypus to your Biomimicry Journal.

Creating a Biomimicry Journal is a bit different from designing a Nature Journal. Just like when you are making a Nature journal you can make drawings and write about what you see, smell, feel, taste and hear. You can also glue in leaves, flowers and other nature treasures. But you also need to think about ideas and how you can use the observations to “invent ” and design things. And this is the most exciting part!

Looking for ideas to teach kids about Platypus Life Cycle and other interesting facts? You’ll find a booklet here.

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