Platypus


The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a semi-aquatic animal that lives in eastern Australia.

As you can see, there’s a lot wrong with it. It’s like evolution started building a duck, planned to finish it in the morning – but then slept through the alarm.

In addition to the fact it’s a complete aesthetic disaster, the platypus is a member of the monotremes – the only egg-laying mammals. As a strategy for reproduction, egg-laying affords a few minor advantages for some species (like birds and reptiles), but scientists uniformly agree it’s a really dumb thing for a mammal to be doing. For one, it completely screws up the otherwise excellent taxonomy system we have in place for classifying animals. It’s not hard to envision some poor naturalist walking along the banks of an eastern Australian river mumbling happily to himself: “Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and…oh f me in the a-hole, what the hell is this now?”

Egg-laying and bad looks aside, the platypus has done something halfway right – it has evolved special receptors in its bill that can sense electric fields produced by the muscle contractions of prey. Clever, right? But think about it: this animal is equipped with a unique power of perception yet it has absolutely zero concept of “me.” Otherwise, it would probably start cutting itself.

Not to keep beating a dead monotreme, but the platypus is just bafflingly uncreative – it’s nothing more than a bunch of parts from other animals thrown together without any consideration for the final product. Apparently it was due the next morning and the main thing was to just get it done. It’s reminiscent of a school science project submitted by a kid whose parents are either unskilled or just don’t care about academics. It is nature’s equivalent of the baking soda volcano.

Since the process of natural selection obviously phoned this one in, maybe it’s time for a little artificial selection of the monotremes. The kind with a bolt action. Then we can all get back to our tidy definition of mammals as animals with hair that don’t lay eggs.

The platypus would receive a failing grade were it not for the fact that it’s also venomous. That’s sort of awesome.

GRADE: D-

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12 responses to “Platypus

  1. i say we get some of these bitches together and make them fight!!!

  2. Amanda Henrickson

    Did you ever consider that maybe the other animals’ parts came from the platypus and not the other way around?

    It’s the sole living member of the Ornithorhynchidae family… cut the monotreme a break, eh?

  3. I think you mean that it’s “THE” member of the monotremes.

    • Once again the forgotten Echidna returns home and cries bitter tears knowing that it is forgotten in the face of its more glamorous duck-billed cousin.

  4. Hang on, I think you’ll find that there is another monotreme living on the same block, as it were – the spiny Echidna. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echidna

  5. Not to worry: the definition of mammals is even tidier than that; mammals–including monotremes–are animals that produce milk to feed their young. That’s why they’re called “mammals,” as in “mammary.” Hair is a distinguishing characteristic of mammals, but certainly not unique to them; spiders and geckos have hair, but they sure as hell don’t have mammary glands.

  6. With the two death spurs on its hind legs, the platypus is the most venomous mammal on earth, able to turn one of your body parts into a navy blue stinging reminder not to mess with so called freaks. Not only this, scientists have reported success in manipulating the platypus’s movement by triggering electronic sensations in the left, right and center areas of the bill. These two facts make it impossible to give this animal anything less than a B+ because if you think about it, they are going to be the next generation of soldiers, easy to control, super painful, massive WTF effect on enemy troops, easily transported young (the eggs are like little cans of asswhooping) and finally a furry coat which can be used after death to warm the victims of war in order to boost public relations across the globe.

  7. I kinda think it’s cute. Sigh. I have poor taste I guess.

  8. So hard on the plat! I love the fact that it’s unclassifiable; not being related like anything else anyone has seen is surely worth a B. It can chill on the land, it can swim in the river. It can shoot spurs into your leg. Definitely an A-grader.

  9. I think they deserve the D- considering they don’t even have a functional stomach!
    http://genomebiology.com/2008/9/5/R81

  10. nor do they have nipples, they just seep milk out of their skin… not sure if this is a plus or a minus

  11. The lack of nipples supports the Review’s contention that they were completed in a hurry.

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