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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tuesday's Trivia.

The power that created the poodle, the platypus and people has an integrated sense of both comedy and tragedy. - JamesThurberThe platypus is one of the weirder Australian animals, being neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring. It is a mammal ~ but doesn't bear live young. It lays eggs but has no nest & no pouch. It does, however, make a separate burrow for raising its young. Scientists label platypus as a monotreme. I just call it odd. Well, what would you call something that looks like this & waddles round the place with its eggs clinging to the fur of its belly & tucked neatly in place by a tail scoop?

Mammals suckle their young ~ unless they're a platypus, or perhaps an echidna. Oh, the female platypus produces milk. Milk oozes out of her glands & her babies lick it off her fur. Messy!

It is also one of the few venomous mammals in the world. True. The male platypus has venom in the spurs of his hind feet ~ lethal enough to kill a dog or make a human rather sick.

When scientists first discovered the platypus in Australia's creeks & rivers they promptly killed & skinned one [don't go there!] & packed it off to England for further scientific study. The English, naturally, thought the Aussies were having them on & this was one large practical joke.

A healthy platypus will have a nice plump tail. It's where excess fat is stored though the tail is also used as a rudder when swimming, to shift soil when burrowing & to curl round the live young once the eggs have hatched.

The bill is made of cartilage but not only can a platypus use it for breathing, it can detect electric impulses from other creature's muscles. The fur is denser than other animal furs. It has about 800 hairs per square millimeter ~ denser than the fur of an otter or polar bear! It has more hemoglobin in its red blood cells than any other mammal, which allows it to store large amounts of oxygen & its heart rate can vary from 140 - 230 beats per minute to almost zero.

A platypus is about the size of your average house cat & I was surprised to learn it does vocalise! Something like a puppy's growl I believe & they may make other sounds as well.

However if you want to see a live one you'll have to come to Oz. There isn't a single zoo outside Australia with a live platypus & they don't breed well in captivity. They managed it in 1943/4 but not again till 1998/9. Not a high success rate! They've been doing better recently. Taronga Park even managed twins.


Rose said...

The platypus is one my favorite animals. Makes me feel like I may be rather normal after all. :-)

Richele said...

Wow, have you seen one?! We love creation science and the platypus ranks right up there with the seahorse for design.

Birbitt said...

What an interesting little critter that is. I've heard of them and seen them in pictures but what a treat it would be to see one up close. I just may have to travel over there just to see your intreresting wildlife.

seekingmyLord said...

I always thought the platypus was one of God's way of saying "Just when you think you have all of my creatures figured out with your theories of evolution...I threw in one that just cannot fit classifications! I can do that because I am the Creator." ;)

Ganeida said...

Rose: Me too! ☺

Richele:Hi. Seahorse are wonderous. We actually bred them at one point...

Birbitt:Afternoon tea on the verandah?

Seeking: No arguement from me on that one! ☺

Britwife said...

Cool. Cool. Cool! I love this little guy! When you said "mammal" - I thought, "HOW?" Thanks for the explanation before I had to wonder any farther! :)

Ganeida said...

Britwife: lol. Mammal I knew for sure but I had to go check if it was a marsupial or not; it's not. The echidna is nearly as weird & it's got spines too!