RationalWiki's 2020 Fundraiser

There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff – we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.

If everyone who saw this today donated $5, we would meet our goal for 2021.

Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with PayPal Logo.png!

Donations so far: $3500Goal: $3500

Platypus

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
'Ello, ducky!
We're all Homo here
Evolution
Icon evolution.svg
Relevant Hominids
A Gradual Science
Plain Monkey Business

The platypus[note 1] (or Ornithorhynchus anatinus, also known as "a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action[note 2]) is an evolutionary screw-up and laughing stock of the animal kingdom. It is an incredibly dangerous semi-aquatic mammal indigenous to Australia. (wait, isn't that par for the course?) The ridiculous appearance of this egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some — especially those only presented with platypus skins or preserved specimens – considering it an elaborate hoax.

The bill is a nice example of convergent evolution: if you're sucking bugs out of water-bottom mud, you'll want something about that shape, whether you're a duck or a platypus. Form follows function. Ironically, creationists often cite the platypus as a "proof" against evolution, claiming that a creature this strange cannot possibly be a product of natural selection. Contrary to popular belief, the platypus is not a "living fossil" that represents a link between birds and mammals (a link that never existed in the first place) as it does not retain the features of the primitive mammals it evolved from.[1]

Though docile unless you try to skin it and sell its fur, the male platypus packs one more surprise: it has a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans.

The platypus is one of only four extant egg-laying mammals, all in the order of monotremes (Monotremata). The other three species are all echidnas in the genera Tachyglossus and Zaglossus (family Tachyglossidae)[2]; the extant platypus is in the family Ornithorhynchidae. The platypus sports numerous features of birds and reptiles (who also lay eggs) that are not present in any other modern mammal, so it may in fact be (in appearance, though certainly not in phylogeny) the crocoduck that Kirk Cameron has told us we should expect to see.

Notes[edit]

  1. Latin derived from the Greek words πλατύς ("weird") and πους ("animal thing").
  2. This is because of the song from Phineas and Ferb,

References[edit]

  1. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/platypus.html
  2. A Handbook of New Guinea's Marsupials and Monotremes by James Menzies (2011). University of Papua New Guinea Press, 2nd ed. ISBN 9980945125.