Monday, August 11, 2008

attributes of the platypus

are you ready, people? you probably have a picture of the australian platypus in your minds, but let me tell you some insane things about it, which i learned on wikipedia's platypus page:

1. the platypus is a mammal - has fur and milk - that also lays leathery eggs. an egg-laying mammal is called a monotreme; only the platypus and a few species of echidna (a sort of hedgehog-esque egg-laying australian creature) are surviving members of the monotremes.

2. the male platypus has venomous spurs on its hind legs containing poison strong enough to cause a human incapacitating pain. sometimes for weeks after the sting. really!

3. the platypus find foods by touch and by electrolocation - that is, it is one of the few mammals to find food via electric currents created by the muscular contractions of prey. the platypus bill has special receptor cells for this kind of electric current.

the platypus is a damn interesting animal. what is one called who studies the platypus? perhaps a platypologist? let's all remember that human beans created the terms "mammal" and "reptile" - and we're the ones freaking out because certain animals don't fit into these categories. i think there's some kind of "taxonomy - not for beginners" lesson here.

if you don't believe me or wikipedia, go straight to the source. click here for an australian government page on the platypus.

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