The Duck-billed Platypus is undoubtedly one of natures great oddities. In fact so strange is its appearance that when a pelt and sketch of a Platypus was sent back to Great Britain in 1798 by Captain John Hunter (the second Governor of New South Wales), British scientists' initially believed it was a hoax! Of course you can't really blame them as taxidermy was a popular trade during this period and exotic oddities could fetch high prices on the open market.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that the Duck-Billed Platypus really does look like some maniacal mind has taken the body of a beaver and cleverly glued otter feet and a birds beak to it. However, its peculiar looks are not the Duck-Billed Platypus's most interesting feature.
I give you my top amazing facts for the Duck-Billed Platypus:
1. Together with just four species of spiny anteaters, it is one of the five species of monotremes alive in the world today. What is a monotreme? It is a mammal that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young - incredible!
2. The Platypus is one of just a handful of venomous mammals, however it is only the male which is capable of producing venom. The male platypus delivers the venom via a spur on the hind foot.
3. The Platypus is genuinely unique as it is sole living representative of its family Ornithorhynchidae, though a number of related species have been found in the fossil record.
4. Apart from at least one species of dolphin, Monotremes are known to have a sense of electroreception. This is the ability to locate their prey in part by detecting electric fields generated by muscular contractions. The platypus' electroreception is the most sensitive of any monotreme.
5. Recent research has discovered that the eyes of the platypus are more similar to those of Pacific hagfish or Northern Hemisphere lampreys than to those of most land mammals. Also it contains double cones, which most mammals do not have. This hints to an ancestry of highly efficient land predators!
For related articles click onto the following links:
Duck-Billed Platypus - Amazing Facts