(ORDO NEWS) — The platypus is a strange animal that seems to break many rules. At the time of its first discovery by Europeans, it seemed to contradict everything they thought they knew about mammals.
The platypus is a fluffy Australian mammal that lives in rivers. He has otter legs and a beaver tail. So far, it’s not that weird. Then you look at the head and it looks like it has the beak of a duck, unlike any other mammal.
Even stranger is the fact that it lays eggs. Only five modern species of mammals do this: platypuses and four species of echidnas (anteaters).
Until the discovery of the platypus, it was common knowledge that one of the defining properties of a mammal is the birth of live offspring.
Plus, the platypus is poisonous! Almost nothing was known about poisonous mammals.
The male platypus produces venom from glands attached to its ankle spurs. It is believed that they are used for protection against other males, especially during the mating season.
Therefore, it is not surprising that European naturalists of the 18th and 19th centuries considered the platypus a hoax.
When the first platypus carcasses arrived in Europe from Australia, scientists didn’t know what to do with them.
They thought it was the work of Chinese sailors. It was believed that the corpses of platypuses were just well-assembled fakes from other animals!
It took zoologists almost a century to admit they were wrong and finally confirm the existence of the platypus.
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