Monsieur Jules Verreaux and the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus: Comments on the observations of a naturaliste voyageur

S. M. Jackson, T. R. Grant, P. D. Temple-Smith, G. Bennett

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During his 15 month sojourn in Tasmania, Monsieur Jules Verreaux devoted most of his efforts to studying the platypus, including making observations in the field. While some of his observations were accurate and original, others were at odds with those of later naturalists and current scientific findings. Like most other 19th century expatriate naturalists from the Northern Hemisphere, Verreaux failed to determine that the species laid eggs but he described some intriguing attributes which remain controversial and/or unsubstantiated by the work of more recent naturalists and scientists. Perhaps the most controversial was that the newly emerged young prod the mammary areas of the female and take the exuded milk from the surface of the water. An annotated summary of Verreaux's findings is presented, along with the full text of his work in French and a translation of this text into modern English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-160
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Mammalogy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Natural history
  • Ornithorhynchus anatinus
  • Platypus
  • Tasmania
  • Verreaux

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