Ventilation and metabolic rate in the platypus: insights into the evolution of the mammalian breathing pattern Conference Paper uri icon


  • The platypus (Ornithorhyncus anatinus) is characterized by a rate of oxygen consumption (V(O2))that is higher than that reported for other similar sized monotremes, similar to marsupials and somewhat lower than eutherians. The platypus is also characterized by a breathing pattern, more typical of a diving mammal, with a high 'inspiratory drive' and a post-inspiratory pause. Further, the platypus reveals an attenuated hyperventilatory response to hypoxia and a reduced hyperpnoea to hypercapnia; such a response to these chemical stimuli is commonly observed in semi-fossorial and diving mammals. Nevertheless, under conditions of normoxia, ventilation (V(E))is matched to (V(O(2)) such that the convection requirement (V(E)/V(O2)) is similar to that reported for other mammals (approx. 37). The apparent consistency of the convection requirement in mammals suggests the blueprint for the design of the mammalian respiratory system has remained an interspecies constant in the three divergent extant sub-classes of mammals.

publication date

  • December 2003