No, that’s not a joke, though the first scientists to study the weird physiology of the platypus thought it was. They assumed that the taxidermist who prepared the platypus specimens they were studying were playing a hoax on them by stitching together body parts from different animals and pretending it was a newly discovered Australian species. It wasn’t. The platypus really does have a host of bizarre features, from electrolocation to mammalian egg laying, that continue to intrigue scientists today.
These adorable five-pound animals are more than just fodder for interesting dinner party conversations. Researchers are seeking to understand how these creatures developed such odd attributes. By studying platypus genetics, ecology, and evolution, they hope to better understand how and when mammals initially split off from reptiles. And platypus venom might even help cure some human diseases.
Platypuses may be funny looking, but they have a lot to offer beyond laughs!