From this fascinating documentary on monotremes it is mentioned that the Platypus is born less than 1 cm in length, but has doubled its size by day three when it begins to nurse. How does the animal grow before feeding?

Surely by conservation of mass there must be some alternate process by which materials are being processed and absorbed by the young animal. Does it absorb nutrients from the air or surrounding environment? Sucking on dirt? Osmosis?

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    $\begingroup$ Plausibly, it could grow by intake of water (much like seeds germinating into seedlings). No citation so left as a comment. $\endgroup$
    – March Ho
    Jul 5, 2015 at 5:54

1 Answer 1


The video is quite old and they knew a lot less about the species then. They probably had to make some guesses. Any modern reference I find doesn't mention any waiting period before nursing.

It seems to me that were this the case it would be very explicitly studied by now as it would be a real oddity for a mammal. And we love platypus oddities.

Interestingly, the platypus doesn't actually have teets to be suckled on. Instead the milk is expressed through their skin and into grooves on the belly that the newborns can drink from.

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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't really answer the question. $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Sep 25, 2015 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ Why was this downvoted? Is it inaccurate? $\endgroup$
    – dotancohen
    Sep 25, 2015 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe I didn't state it clearly enough but the answer is "it does not". There is no record of this in any literature I saw, other than the aged documentary provided in the question (with no explanation of the very odd physiology). $\endgroup$
    – Nathan
    Sep 25, 2015 at 15:04

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