Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Platypus

I. Introduction

It has a bill like a duck. It can lay eggs and produces venom. It has features of a reptile and a bird. Its covered in fur and has a pouch. Its technically a mammal. Yes, this is the platypus. The platypus is perhaps one of the oddest creatures to ever walk the earth. Platypus is one of the only know animals, in addition to its abnormal appearance, that has not evolved or changed in anyway for many centuries. They also have not left there home in eastern Australia.

II. Discovery
The platypus was discovered by the Europeans in 1798. A sketch and pelt was sent to Great
Britain were scientist believed it to be a hoax buy taxidermist in which a duck bill was sown to the
body of a beaver like animal. British scientist even went as far as cutting the dead animal apart to see check for stitching. However, when none were found scientist finally acknowledged that it was in fact a true animal.

Figure 1

III. What is the Platypus?

The platypus is one of the most unique animals on the planet. It is considered to be mammal, and of the classification of monotreme. this is a very small group that only contain only five members. it is also one of the few mammals that lays eggs as opposed to giving live birth. The body as well as the tail of a platypus is covered in very dense brown fur that can trap warm air close to the skin to keep the animal warm. The platypus' feet have long claws that almost double the length of the foot and are webbed. The webbing on the feet extends past the claws and can easily be folded back for walking on land and fighting. When platypuses are born both male and female are born with venomous spurs in there hind legs. However, by the time they reach maturity only the male will have the spurs. These spurs contain defenisin protein produced in the immune system and, while it is lethal to small mammals is not lethal to humans, though it does cause severe pains. Platypuses are also one of the few animals that have a sense called electro location, which allows an animal to find prey by sense the musal contractions of the prey. Of all the animals the platypus has the strongest sense of electro location.

IV. Evolution

The oldest fossil of a modern day platypus was found to be about 100,000 years old. These fossils have only been found in Australia and Argentina, which at the time were connected to each other by Antarctica. While scientist have found fossils of platypus like animals in many other places around the world, modern platypuses can only be found in eastern Australia. this is because the platypus has adapted to its environment a does not feel the need to migrate or relocate itself to a different area.

V. Impact on the world/humanity

Because of its characteristics the platypus is thought to be the evolutionary link between sea creatures and land creatures. many scientist believe that long ago the platypus evolved from fish and started to live mostly on land. Then from the platypus came:
marsupials- the platypus' pouch
reptiles- from the egg laying and basic structure of the platypus
mammals- from living on land
birds- sex chromosomes
However, because there have been little to no found fossils of creatures related to the platypus in any other areas besides the home of the platypus in eastern Australia and Argentina.

VI. Journal Artical

This article talks about how the platypus contains many features that contradicts other. it mostly focuses on how the female platypus lays eggs but also produces milk, which is only done by mammals that give live birth.

VII. Conclusion

In short the platypus first appears to be the subject of an evolutionary mix up, but might just be the evolutionary link that scientist have been looking for. It combines the body of a mammal and a reptile. It has a pouch like a marsupial. It is semi-aquatic making it related to a fish. And has a duck bill and lays eggs making it related to a bird.


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