While Australian aborigines were aware of the platypus long before Europeans came to Australia, Captain John Hunter is usually given credit as the animal's discoverer. He sent a platypus pelt and a sketch of the animal to England in the late 1700s.
Dr. George Shaw provided the first scientific description of the platypus in 1799. One of the oddest animals on Earth, the platypus is native to eastern Australia. It is a monotreme, a kind of mammal that lays eggs rather than giving birth to living young. With a duck-like beak, webbed feet, beaver-like fur and rooster-like spurs on the male's hind legs, the platypus was so strange that Hunter's specimen was rejected as a fake by many English scientists who could not believe that all of these characteristics were part of a single animal.