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Our look is the result of reader comments, our own experimentation, and feedback from distribution channels. Distinctive covers complement our distinctive approach to technical topics, breathing personality and life into potentially dry subjects.

The animal on the cover of Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL is a platypus. The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) of Australia and Tasmania has been described as a living fossil. Its earliest known remains date back 100,000 years, and it combines mammalian and reptilian features. It is aquatic, furry, warm-blooded, and lays eggs. It sports webbed feet, a beaverlike tail, and a ducklike bill.

The preferred plural of platypus is either "platypus" or "platypuses," and a baby platypus has been referred to as a "platapup."

The platypus was first described by Dr. George Shaw, a British scientist. He thought the animal was a hoax and took a pair of scissors to the pelt, expecting to find stitches attaching appendages to skin.

The platypus is an air-breathing mammal that spends most of its day resting in an underground burrow. However, it feeds only in the water and is rarely observed on land. The platypus hunts mostly at night for such food as shrimp, worms, and aquatic insects. Because the animal doesn't need to hear or see its intended food, a platypus protects its eyes and ears by automatically closing them underwater and relies on its bill to locate prey. While diving, the platypus temporarily stores food in special cheek pouches. When the animal returns to the surface to breathe, the food is ground up between rough pads located inside the bill.

A female platypus produces a clutch of one to three eggs in late winter or spring. The mother is believed to incubate them between her lower belly and curled-up tail for about 10 days as she rests in an underground nest made of vegetation collected from the water. She doesn't have nipples; her milk is instead secreted from two patches of skin midway along her belly. It's believed that a platypup feeds by slurping up milk with sweeps of its stubby bill. When juveniles enter the water at about four months, they are nearly as long as an adult.

The platypus is the only Australian mammal known to be venomous. Adult males have a pointed spur located above the heel of each hind leg that can inject poison produced by a gland in the thigh. Platypus venom isn't considered life-threatening to humans. However, spurring is painful, because platypus spurs are sharp and can be driven in with great force; the poison itself triggers severe pain in the affected limb.

The platypus is officially classified as "common but vulnerable" in Australia. As a species, it isn't currently considered endangered. However, platypus populations are believed to have declined or disappeared, particularly in urban and agricultural settings; the specific underlying reasons for this decline is unknown.

Mary Anne Weeks Mayo was the production editor and copyeditor for Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL. Rachel Wheeler, Colleen Gorman, Emily Quill, and Jane Ellin provided quality control. Leanne Soylemez and Phil Dangler provided production assistance. Brenda Miller wrote the index.

Ellie Volckhausen designed the cover of this book, based on a series design by Edie Freedman. The cover image is an original engraving from Johnson's Natural History. Emma Colby produced the cover layout with QuarkXPress 4.1 using Adobe's ITC Garamond font.

Melanie Wang designed the interior layout, based on a series design by David Futato. Mihaela Maier converted the files from Microsoft Word to FrameMaker 5.5.6 using tools created by Mike Sierra. The text font is Linotype Birka; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is LucasFont's The Sans Mono Condensed. The illustrations that appear in the book were produced by Robert Romano and Jessamyn Read using Macromedia FreeHand 9 and Adobe Photoshop 6. The tip and warning icons were drawn by Christopher Bing. This colophon was compiled by Mary Anne Weeks Mayo.

The online edition of this book was created by the Safari production group (John Chodacki, Becki Maisch, and Madeleine Newell) using a set of Frame-to-XML conversion and cleanup tools written and maintained by Erik Ray, Benn Salter, John Chodacki, and Jeff Liggett.



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