Scientists Discover World’s Oldest Wild Platypus

Photo by Trevor McKinnon on Unsplash

Biologist Geoff Williams of Australian Platypus Conservancy recently reunited with an animal he thought he would never see again—a wild male platypus he tagged back in 2000. The reason why Williams was surprised at the encounter is because platypuses in the wild aren’t supposed to live that long.

The average life span of a platypus in the wild is around 12 years, while the oldest platypus ever discovered outside captivity was a female specimen that lived to be 21 years old. This makes the platypus tagged by Williams, the world’s oldest platypus in the wild at 24 years old.

Williams first came in contact with this particular platypus in November 2000, at a creek system near Melbourne, Australia, when he was one year old. More than two decades later, a team of scientists found him again and learned he was already tagged. They then invited Williams to examine him.

 “This one is just beyond all our expectations in terms of how old it was,” Williams said in a chat with British media outlet Guardian. “It’s remarkable that this animal is still doing as well as he is after all these years.”

Platypus’ short life span is associated with a number of factors, including habitat change and predators. However, the world’s oldest wild platypus is believed to have been enjoying a comfortable life in a place with favorable conditions and a lack of predators.

The world’s oldest male platypus in captivity is 25 years old, while the world’s oldest female platypus in captivity is 30 years old.