How the Venomous, Egg-Laying Platypus Evolved
The odd Australian mammal has an intriguing family tree.
If there was a poster animal for diversification, it would have to be the platypus. It looks like an otter that’s gone trick-or-treating as a duck.
It’s a mashup that inspired Mark Anthony Libre to ask Weird Animal Question of the Week: "How did [the platypus] evolve in this unlikely fashion?”
The platypus is an Australian mammal with some weirdly reptilian traits, like egg laying.
While we think of mammals and reptiles as very different, at one time they shared a common ancestor, says Wes Warren of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Warren led the 2008 study that found that the platypus has a "fascinating combination of reptilian and mammalian characters." (Related: "Platypus Genome