The metabolism of swimming in the platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus Shaw was studied by measurement of oxygen consumption in a recirculating water flume. Platypuses swam against a constant water current of 0.45-1.0 ms-1. Animals used a rowing stroke and alternated bouts of surface and submerged swimming. Metabolic rate remained constant over the range of swimming speeds tested. The cost of transport decreased with increasing velocity to a minimum of 0.51 at 1.0 ms-1. Metabolic rate and cost of transport for the platypus were lower than values for semiaquatic mammals that swim at the water surface using a paddling mode. However, relative to transport costs for fish, the platypus utilized energy at a similar level to highly derived aquatic mammals that use submerged swimming modes. The efficient aquatic locomotion of the platypus results from its specialised rowing mode in conjunction with enlarged and flexible forefeet for high thrust generation and a behavioral strategy that reduces drag and energy cost by submerged swimming.

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