“Mosaic Critters” – Part Five

platypusIn our final blog on fascinating mosaic creatures, I’d like to turn our attention to the most famous mosaic animal of all, the oddity called the duck-billed platypus. The first dead platypus specimen reached England in 1799 and it was thought to be a hoax perpetrated on the British scientific community by some Colonial prankster. Experts of the day could not believe that a duck-billed mammal with webbed feet and claws and a beaver-like tail could really exist. One zoologist even tried to remove the “duck’s bill” from the pelt and his scissor-marks can still be seen on the original in London’s British Museum of Natural History. If we had only found the fossil of a platypus, some enterprising darwinist might well have claimed that it was a transitional form proving that primitive ducks evolved from beavers. But instead we can see in real life just how amazing this animal is. The legs splay out to the side like a reptile. It has hair and mammary glands like all mammals. But the platypus “secretes” milk like sweat onto its chest where the babies lick it up. The spiny anteaters and the platypus are the only mammals that lay eggs (called monotremes). Male platypus have venomous, back-facing spurs on their rear feet for defense. Lastly, these carnivores use electrical impulses to guide them to underwater prey (like shrimp, crayfish, and mollusks). Small wonder that the marvelously-designed platypus has been called an evolutionist’s worst nightmare!

Posted on July 2, 2016 by dwoetzel.

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