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Curious Critters: Platypus

Welcome to our first edition of Curious Critters! Our aim is to help everyone get to know the Aussie bush, and become more familiar with the beauty around them

Our first critter is the elusive and beautiful platypus!


The platypus is arguably one of the most distinct animals on the planet, come on just look at it's duck nose and fluffy otter-like body, it is easy to see why everyone is so fascinated by the lil' guy.


Platypus being a cutie pie
Platypus


As a child I was absolutely enthralled by the platypus, I thought it was special and boy was I right - Here are a few things you might not have known about this quirky creature.


THEY ARE EGG LAYING MAMMALS

The first thing I remember from school is that mammals give painful births, are warm blooded and don't lay eggs. But this animal breaks all the rules and is an egg-laying mammal, called a monotreme. There are only five monotreme species: our buddy the platypus, four types of the spiky and cute echidna. It is said they lay eggs because they didnt evolve fast enough o keep up with the times, but i just think they are keeping it real and old school. It's chill guys, never change.


THEY DON'T HAVE A STOMACH.

Say What? yes you heard me, the lil' critter hasn't a belly! Platypuses (you can also say platypodes and platypi but its not as popular) have a gullet, and this gullet connects directly to their intestines which means nothing is processed via acid like our stomachs-so they dont get acid reflux I guess!


Spiny echidnas, about 25% of living fishes all have a gullet too... kinda weird but also kinda awesome!


THEIR BILL GIVES THEM A "SIXTH SENSE."

Thousands of microscopic cells make up the bill of the platypus, giving it that weird sixth sense. And no, I am not talking about seeing dead people... but it does involve a bit of electricity....!

The cells allow them to detect the electric fields, generated by all living things and is so sensitive it can hunt with it's eyes shut - relying entirely on the bill’s electrolocation.


THEY USED TO BE BLOODY BIG.

The ancient versions of a lot of modern animals, including penguins, were oversized monsters compared to the animals that wander the earth today...and platypuses are no different. In 2013, the discovery of a single tooth helped researchers identify a prehistoric platypus that was almost one metre long—double the size of the lil' platypus of today!


THEY AIN'T GOT NO NIPS!

Platypuses are born out of leathery eggs... but their babies still nurse from their mum... which is a bit weird considering their lack of nips! The babies drink up mum's milk by sucking through the folds of their mother's skin, or her fur, the milk is released through mammary gland ducts from their abdomen, so bizarre and awesome as heck!


THEY ARE A BIT SPICY (A BIT DANGEROUS).

A platypus’s venom isn’t in his teeth, they ain't snakes yo! - They actually the males carry their venom in a hollow spur on each hind leg. It really isn't something you should be worried about though, it's activated during mating season and used to fend off pesky males.


Platypus at the creek, fun facts
Platypus at the creek having a lil' rest

SCIENTISTS THOUGHT THE PLATYPUS WAS BS.

The first time a scientist laid eyes on a Platypus brought from Australia to England in the last 18th century, thought it was just a hilarious joke. "It naturally excites the idea of some deceptive preparation by artificial means," zoologist George Shaw penned back in 1799 when describing the platypus. The crazy part is, they didn't discover it laid eggs for another 100 years, who's the joke now buddy! (just joshing, but still, it's one of the most interesting things about them!)


There's a ton more to learn about these cool critters, so do yourself a favour and watch this from the National Geographic, or this one is a little bit alright too!


Franky Dinki Co Staff writer

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