Scientists say Australia's rare duck-billed platypuses are being pushed to 'the brink of extinction' — and deadly bushfires are making it worse

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The duck-billed platypus
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  • The platypus is being pushed to the "brink of extinction," according to scientists.
  • A new report says population numbers of the animal have more than halved since Europeans first arrived in Australia.
  • The report predicts that by 2070, population numbers of the animal could plummet by up to 70%.
  • Scientists said pollution, land-clearing, and climate change are the biggest threat to the animal.
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Scientists say one of the world's most unique animal species, the duck-billed-platypus, is on "brink of extinction."

The platypus is part-mammal, part-reptile - the only living mammal that lays eggs to reproduce.

According to a new report released by the Biological Conservation journal, the platypus is currently listed as "near-threatened" based on a significant decline in their populations since Europeans first arrived in Australia.

The report said the platypus has already disappeared from 40% of its previous habitats on the east coast of Australia, and predicts that in 2070 population numbers could plummet by up to 70%.

Dr. Gilad Bino, the report's lead author told The Age that the rapid trajectory of extinction could place the platypus on the "brink of extinction."

"The ash in the water and the lack of oxygen would have a severe impact on some areas that coincide with platypus populations," Bino added, referring specifically to the threat posed by the bushfires that have ravaged Australia in recent months.

The animal is not currently listed as an endangered by the government in Australia, but following the release of the report many experts are advocating for the animal to be recognised as endangered, according to The Age.

Some reasons behind the predicted extinction of the animals are pollution, land-clearing, and climate change - particularly an increase in the number of droughts, according to the report.

Droughts are a particular threat to the platypus because they make their home exclusively in freshwater areas in Australia such as rivers.

This year Australia has experienced a particularly devastating bushfire season due to higher than usual temperatures.

So far this bushfire season in Australia has killed at least 30 people, destroyed 2,000 homes, and burned through 10 million hectares of land, the BBC reported.

The fires have also significantly affected the country's wildlife, killing nearly half a billion animals since the start of the season.

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